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!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Poetry Friday - My Small Poem

            It's Poetry Friday, and Anastasia Suen is hosting HERE at her blog. She's been writing what she calls "small poems" recently. I wonder what's in her pocket this week?
            Thanks for hosting, Anastasia!  

              Wishing all a December full of good celebrations, however you choose to celebrate. I hope our world will find a way toward peace this month, and bring blessings to all who are struggling. 

             I chose a small poem today!





Every Corner

Extra Merrily



   Linda Baie ©


Monday, November 27, 2023

It's Monday - New Books Celebrate The Moon


        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 I wrote a bit over a month ago, my family and I traveled to Santa Fe to see the annular eclipse. It was amazing, like the complete solar eclipse I saw when we traveled to Missouri in 2017. You may have read how much I love moon books, have done moon journaling and studying with students when I taught. One big gift to me recently was that I won five books connected to the moon in a giveaway by Melissa Stewart. Hoorah! I've read and reviewed two and given the link to those reviews on Goodreads. Here are the other three with those read a month or so ago at the end!
         And tonight is the full Beaver moon! 

       Thank You, Moon: Celebrating Nature's Nightlight by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Jessica Lanan

                Melissa Stewart's books amaze me with the subtle way she uses information to create a beautifully lyrical story and at the same time, tells readers so much about her topic. This time, with luminous illustrations by Jessica Lanan ( also author and illustrator of Jumper: A Day in the Life of a Backyard Jumping Spider), Stewart shares some animals that are only "safe" in moonlight, like gazelles, because it's too bright for lions to sneak up on them, or that bright nightlight also helps baby sea turtles find the path to the sea. If it's a night that shows only a sliver of a moon, the lesser light helps lions get closer to their prey. a meal needed. Each page is a double-page spread, introducing the information about numerous living things, whether in bright moonlight or much less light, all need the moon. Ten living things, including a tree, are included and more information is added at the back, along with a source list and books for further reading. It's enticing to read and learn that our moon is important in a variety of ways. 

                A Few Beautiful Minutes: Experiencing A Solar Eclipse by Kate Allen Fox, illustrated by Khoa Lee

        All over the world, Kate Allen Fox tells us in beautifully lyrical language of children waiting, preparing, ready to be awe-struck for "A Few Beautiful Minutes". Khoa Lee illustrates the excitement in her gorgeous full-page illustrations, including the animals' behavior as the sky darkens and stars twinkle. I've seen one. Birds really do fly in for 'night' as the sun disappears. The story shows the excitement and includes  children using sun viewers, too. There is further explanation of a solar eclipse at the end plus how to make a sun viewer and a list of further resources. It's a lovely book about this phenomenon that doesn't happen very often. 
        You can find more information at NASA here. The next solar eclipse is April 8, 2024!

Full Moon Pups  by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Chuck Groenink

              In an imaginary, poetic song by Liz Garton Scanlon, a litter of wolf pups is welcomed. Over the month's moon cycle, Liz manages to include numerous things about the pups' growth, from blind and cuddled next to their mother for food to a move with all the pack helping to get them to safer, higher ground because of heavy rains. They soon become curious about the world they're now seeing, "as they tussle, tumble, hide." Liz's words alongside Groenink's luminous, night illustrations bring the exciting world of "Full Moon Pups" to readers just as the world also comes to the pups. Liz adds a bit more in her author's note, and the way a lunar month works is added as well. The book will add to a beginning moon study or easily inspire one. Terrific book!

The Museum on the Moon: The Curious Objects on the Lunar Surface by Irene Latham, illustrated by Myriam Wares        Goodreads review HERE.

Night Owl Night by Susan Edwards Richmond, illustrated by Maribel Lechuga
              Goodreads review HERE.

Still readingContinuing Demon Copperhead - Kingsolver and now Alebrijes by Donna Barber Higuera, who also wrote The Last Cuentista

Have a great week ahead!

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Poetry Friday - Good Things Outside


            It's Poetry Friday, and Ruth Bowen Hersey is hosting HERE at her blog, There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town with a post that welcomes goodness this day after Thanksgiving, in America. She's written an ode to taxonomy and the good news from those who observe, organize, identify.  Ruth is now living in Kampala, Uganda, though I began to know and love her posts and poetry when she and her family lived in Haiti.  

              Also, it's the end of the month and the #PoetryPals have challenged us to write in the style of Valerie Worth. After re-reading some of her books I have, I am feeling very challenged. They are so good! Ruth also asked us last week to write about something good. I tried to connect the two, and use the Poetry Sisters' challenge also to include transformation as a theme. Thus, finding 'goodness' outside is what I do nearly every day. I walk, I venture down the block to get my mail. I travel to a nearby lake to watch the water birds. And, I note change. My continuing theme is #getoutside! 

The upper left photo was taken during the annular eclipse in Santa Fe.
The others are from my own home.


Get Outside


Shadows make their way

across my day,

art created 

minute by minute,

slipping across the grass, 

partnering with the sun.

They nap

as clouds roll by.


when sun’s up again, 

they refresh with the warmth 

of brick walls,

cement slabs,

patio stones.

Late day lines lengthen,

linger into dusk.

Sometimes they achieve

an eclipse masterpiece.

            Linda Baie ©

Monday, November 20, 2023

It's Monday! - New Books to Be Thankful For


        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!  FYI, I shared a review of this new book by Rhiann0n Giddens for Poetry Friday here last week if you'd like to read more about it. 

        I have the pleasure of sharing two books by Michael Panzer, who's creating some lovely stories for his grandchildren and for other young readers, too! He's a debut picture book writer who wrote this for me about part of his process: "Rather than hoping (and praying) for inspiration, I recognized that an engaging narrative could emerge from the ordinary things that might otherwise be overlooked if you weren't paying attention. I began to see the mundane details of my own experiences as creative kernels that could blossom into something special –"

      And these two "new" books are special for young readers! Thanks to Michael for my copies!

           Josie, Johnnie and Rosie and the Ocean Rescue is about three close friends. Josie's happiness through having special unicorn twins in her life is evident as we can see the excitement while they chatter and decide to have a day at the beach together. At the beach, during a blanket spread out for a picnic, Josie sees some fish in the water, in distress, caught by a net! The action begins with that rescue, and the next observation, "Oh, no!" the ocean is full of trash! Thus begins a group that cares enough to help with others joining in. 
          As the story moves along, Michael's words and Brooke Beaver's colorful and detailed illustrations will support a conversation about small actions making big effects. There may have already been some things that have happened in the past for examples? Perhaps if with your own children or with students, a parent or teacher can have some ideas ready for action? 
          My only wish for a change is that ideas for local or national organizations could have been added in an "If you want to help?" list at the back. However, the story will inspire for everyone to go on a search! 

          The TaekwonderoosRescue at Rattling Ridge, Michael's most recent book, finds a group like no other, three eastern gray kangaroos from Australia, all masters of taekwondo, yes, really! It's a fun concept to learn of these new characters (we all know kangaroos kick, right?), each one a pro but with varied positive characteristics to celebrate. For example, early in the story, shown in colorful illustrations by Lora Look , the three practice their moves; they kick, they spin, they jump! And, they're enjoying the performance in a beautiful scene of the grassy plains and nearby Rattling Ridge as the background, with the trio's joyful emotions at the fore. Suddenly, they're interrupted by a far-off cry, a tiny "joey" (a young kangaroo) is stuck high on a cliff. The story begins here with each of the Taekwonderoos showing his or her special power. As you might imagine, each one contributes to the rescue as in any other event or project, whether emergency or event-planning. The 'powers' are sometimes an exaggeration but it feels like the story can help emphasize how much each person's talents add to success in any event. It'll start a talk about past experiences, or one about some event about to happen. I'd enjoy reading this to a young group that is about to have a new adventure, asking what's needed and who will do it, or who will support each? 

          Michael's stories entertain through colorful illustrations with fun characters whose actions inspire new conversations. I am reminded of the quote by Helen Keller: "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." 
          Both books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.

       This is Kelly Baptist's first verse novel although she's written three other chapter  books and one picture book. If you need to go inside the heads of two tweens, Ebony and De'Kari (goes by Flow), this verse novel feels so real, you'll want to hug each one and help them feel better every day. Feelings fly, really over an accident, but each one is sure the other one is in the wrong. In those minutes, the stage is set, and these kids get a ten-day suspension which is how the book is organized, day by day! It's a novel-in-verse telling us readers how it goes, with each kid taking turns telling what's going on, their thoughts and feelings right there for us to listen and try to understand! There's also an interesting anecdote by Kelly Baptist in the author's note about starting the writing and what happened soon after.
        Ten days is a long time without school helping to order their lives, though both gripe quite a lot about it and it seems they do pretty well, despite the griping. This time, while the fight was bad and the suspension worse, all the challenges in their homes means the suspension won't be even a tiny bit of fun. They'll first need to explain the "why" to their families and friends. Both are in single parent homes, with siblings and sometimes other family members to deal with, also to help and to love. There's insight into each family member, some trouble, and some fun, like most families, and also an underlying challenge of finances, not quite enough sometimes. 
        Eb's and Flow's personalities feel real, the worry about friends, finding something one wants to do in the future but knowing it may be impossible, plus there lies within the story an underlying love for family though the outside actions don't always show it. Eb and Flow might find that out along with a few other things felt by both. I enjoyed their story very much.

          I loved these stories, yes, more than one story is shared in Kate DiCamillo's new book, The Puppets of Spelhorst, A Normandy Tale. There are the puppet's stories, together and apart, intertwining with others like the two young girls whose Uncle brings them the puppets in a trunk labeled "Spelhorst" and their maid, Jane Twiddum. A teacher is in there and some early characters who also play a part in the puppets' journey. I don't usually refer to other books in reviews but this time, I am reminded of Deborah Wiles' book Each Little Bird That Sings. That title brings the thought of what Kate DiCamillo does so beautifully, makes every character add to the weft of the story. If only in a brief scene, she lets her characters "sing" as they play their scenes. Boosting the enjoyment of this new book are Julie Worsted's illustrations, enhancing readers' imaginations with her own artistic work. I imagine this will become a favorite read aloud in many classrooms or groups.
         Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy. The book published about five weeks ago.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Now Reading: Continuing Demon Copperhead - Kingsolver and starting Alebrijes by Donna Barber Higuera, who also wrote The Last Cuentista.