Monday, February 19, 2024

Monday Reading - Books for your Lists!


        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! Remember to check out the winners of the Cybil's awards! 

        I was not a Mexikid, but the adventures 
Pedro Martin tells in this wonderful graphic novel about his family's adventure(s) going to and from Mexico makes me want to have been one! I had some special abuelitos, but only one sibling!
       It's a memoir of Pedro's road trip with the family to bring their abuelito back from Mexico to live with them. Pedro has heard the stories of his brave and strong abuelito, crime-fighter, and part of the Mexican Revolution, but he isn't very excited to have him move in. Pedro has eight brothers and sisters and their home is crowded already. There's lots to learn about border crossing and fun toys to be found in Mexico, also huge parties with other family members, and then some sadness in different ways of saying goodbye. It's a trip that would be great all the way through, but the ending connection between Pedro and his abuelito makes the sweetest ending. Now I hope there's more to tell, next time! I loved the creative and varied way  Martin tells the story in his art and words, with lots of emotion in sad, hilarious, and happy times.   
         Awards won for this debut graphic novel: 

Newbery Honor Book   Pura Belpré Author Award

Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Tomás Rivera Children's Book Award

       It's a beautiful book by Julie Leung that was acknowledged as a Caldecott Honor and winner of the Asian Pacific American Award for Literature, where a mother tells her darling 'bao bei' (an endearment like 'darling' or 'honey') of his dual heritage through a story of dragons in two parallel stories. These adventures take him to his grandmothers, and along the way, he meets two different and enchanting versions of dragons and learns the stories. Hanna Cha filled my eyes with splendid and lush illustrations as the boy took his journey. The dragons are both different, and both fabulous, and the story creates a loving tale for those who connect with it and those who will wonder about their own stories. I can imagine the rich conversation when reading this aloud to a group of children.
      This won a Newbery Honor this year!

      Buffy Silverman has previously brought us the joys of autumn and welcoming spring, now the most recent revels in winter, where we in some areas often find beauty "On A Flake-Flying Day". I first read this on February 10th, happy to be home and watching my own flakes flying. Buffy's rhyming that accompanies fabulous photos glories in, as the sub-title says, "Watching Winter's Wonders". Kids make forts, red berries stand out, bears nap, and Buffy tells us all about it in delicious, winter-wonderful rhyme, like "Weasel whitens, Cardinal brightens, Frost glistens, and Owl listens." There is added information about each animal or happening included plus a list of books for further reading and a glossary. Buffy's books make a time of both mystery and celebration when studying seasons. Don't miss this latest one!

          Paul B. Janeczko's posthumous collection shares older poems and a few new ones from 34 poets, in three sections defining home: Home, Street, and Town. Some of the poems readers may recognize as old favorites, like X.J. Kennedy's rhythmic  "Home": "East side, West side,/all around the town./Which side/is the best side?/Wherever you sit down/to eat your supper, pet your cat. . ." And they will love the new "Ice Cream Truck" by Irene Latham. Doesn't everyone have one if they live in a town or city? Nikki Grimes writes about a "Block Party". It's a great book to share with students who will want to write about the special places they live, and perhaps illustrate their work. Hyewon Yum's watercolor and colored pencil illustrations beautifully show the lively days of people, and animals, too, having lots of fun where they live. The variety of ways to imagine where we live and what we do will inspire all who read this lovely book. It's a Cybils finalist in poetry collections.

        It's not easy to pass by a book by Robert Burleigh and Wendell Minor, a team that can tell a story for young readers that's both beautiful and informative. This is one animal family’s story, and shows the dangers now facing ice bears way up north. A mother bear and her cub are hungry and wait at the ice's edge to catch, perhaps a seal! Suddenly, the ice breaks off, and they are set adrift! What happens next fills up with tension as the mother bear will have to swim to rescue her baby cub. There is added information at the back, about ice bears and the challenges they face because of climate change. It's a good introduction to our changing climate and its dangers to animals and humans. 

           As you may know, I live in Denver, Colorado, so when I found this book, I certainly wanted to read it. I've been to Camp Hale, recently made a national monument by President Biden: Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument. I've been there and toured it with students. Now I know so much more from this fascinating and detailed history by Maurice Isserman. According to Isserman, it began with a few men, veteran skiers, sitting around a table at a Vermont Country Inn in 1940, discussing the war and the latest news about the Finnish soldiers holding back the invaders. Those soldiers "knew" how to fight in the mountains! Thus began a seed of something they thought the United States would need and should have, soldiers trained in mountain warfare. It's a fascinating history, including all the bumps, the horrors, and the triumphs that the 10th Mountain Division holds in its history. Descendants continue to gather. In fact, the latest one is the week, starting on Wednesday. The webpage of the group is here! If you like historical reading about World War II, this is a fascinating history, There's a poignant afterword and many, many notes at the back.

           I read this fairly fast, my introduction to S.A. Cosby. Both tense and terrifying for all fictional characters involved and for readers. I both liked and hated the underlying, and often blatant, instances of racism shown in Charon County. If you want to read my whole review, find it here! This time it's exacerbated by the fact that this story is about the county's first black sheriff, Titus Crown, former FYI agent, back home to care for his dad, another character among several whom readers will admire. 

Now Reading - the group of short stories, "collected" by A.S. King, The Collectors, and another mystery.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Poetry Friday - Postcard Joy

 It's Poetry Friday, and Margaret Simon is hosting HERE on her blog, Reflections on the Teche. She's sharing two beautiful poems that encompass both joy and sorrow, a journey in all our lives. Thanks for hosting, Margaret!

created by Linda M.

   You all know of Jone's idea, which began years ago of sending postcards for New Year wishes. This year, the Year of the Dragon, was a theme for some. Those I received were created with gorgeous art and special wishes for living the year! I am grateful to each of you for those lovely pieces that came in my mail! Thank you, Jone, Denise, Gail, Linda M., Margaret, Molly, Robyn, Michelle, Carol V., Tabatha, and Mary Lee. (You will need to click to enlarge in order to read some.)

Thanks, Carol!

Thanks, Michelle!

Thanks, Gail!

Thanks, Jone!

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Poetry Friday - Love Is In The Air

   It's Poetry Friday, and Carol Varsalona is hosting HERE on her blog, Beyond Literacy Link. Thanks for hosting, Carol, and for all the love in your post!

     Carol is sharing many of the postcards from our card exchange, created and managed by Jone MacCulloch. Thanks to everyone for sending me a smile nearly every day. I'll share soon!

I've shared some of these antique Valentines I have from dear my mother-in-law, before. I adore them and found one more to show you. Helen, Miss Helen to her students, was one of those teachers who, after leaving high school, taught in a one-room schoolhouse in the 1920’s.  She rose well before sunup, saddled a horse, and left for the country building where her first duty was to start the fire.  Imagine those cold winter mornings! 
I love these special Valentines, quite different from the ones we see today, and I wanted to share one with all of you, too, as my Valentine's Day wish. 

Oh let’s make life
a jolly lark
A picnic if you
And it will be just
this for me
If words you say
are these:

I Love You!
                                               Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!

Monday, February 5, 2024

Monday Reading - Books You Should Not Miss!


        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! Nearly done, but reading for the Cybils is both wonderful and takes time. Remember the final winners will be announced on Valentine's Day. Happy February!

          Many books satisfy my reading life because they show me fascinating ways of thinking, new ideas for research, and incredible approaches to telling a story. Daniel Mason has written one of them in this book, North Woods. Two young people, in love, escape their Puritan home and land in this one small part of the North Woods of the "new world", later called New England. Their raising of one small cabin begins an amazing journey of that land, which includes a wide variety of land dwellers, some humans in various forms, some little-known and known creatures, and the vast, many-layered life of the woods. In various ways of telling the story, including prose and poetry, letters and art, Mason entertains and educates us while we travel the many years and watch a variety of people live their lives. Perhaps you'll make personal connections; perhaps not, but it's a wondrous tale!

        For a child on the autism spectrum, change isn't easy. He loves his teacher, Mrs. Tanaka, who keeps a calendar on the wall that shows every day, every week, the same. Until this Monday, Mrs. Tanaka announced that there would be a parade on Friday, so sharing day would move to Thursday. This is not what Henry wishes, and musical instruments handed out for parade marchers add to his frustration. They are too noisy! How he navigates the week through some thinking time and a discovery in the quiet closet brings a good ending, not only for Henry! Jenny Bailey and illustrator Mika Song start this easy reader series that Henry and lots of others will enjoy, "like always"!

Thanks to Candlewick Press
for this copy!
       In a debut publication, the background story is that Uma Menon wrote this book at the age of sixteen about her own household. She had been unable to find a similar book that told "her" story. It shares about a young girl named Sumi, whose mother, she tells, can speak two languages, Malayalam and English, and can "switch between them at the speed of sound". The power of being multi-lingual is celebrated as Sumi shares her mother's story of immigrating from India as a child and how she now has "two tongues" woven together. One early scene shows them at the grocery. Her mother asks the grandmother in Malayalam if they needed more milk, turned to Sumi, and spoke in a combination of both 'tongues,' then turned to the cashier and asked how she was doing in English. 
       I've seen, as Sumi calls it, this "superpower" several times through the years, once watching a guide on a boat tour switch from English to Spanish and back with expertise while presenting and answering questions.  Rahele Jomepour Bell's illustrations fill the pages with diverse groups of people, living in various places, Sumi practicing her own Malayalam when they travel to visit family, hoping she will soon have those two tongues woven into one, like her mother. She mentions varied accents, too, that "every person's voice is unique and important." It's a marvelous book inspiring everyone to learn to become multi-lingual. 

1st published in the UK, now thanks to Candlewick
Press for this copy published this year in the U.S.

        A young boy appears to listen to words of wisdom as illustrator Clara Anganuzzi takes us along with him and his animal companions, from elephants to leopards, parrots and penguins, gorillas, and giraffes. There's even a little mouse. Karl Newson's words tell about being brave and that sometimes, "We all have moments when we need to take a step back. . . while sometimes, fun and friends find us." It's filled with life's moments and supporting words, a lovely book to share with children or to give to them to read and think about each part. My favorite: "And every new experience/means a new memory is made!" 

Currently: Starting a mystery, All The Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby and Mexikid by Pedro Martin
       I've also been reading The Winter Army by Maurice Isserman, a history of the Tenth Mountain Division, very slowly. I discovered it at the used bookstore where I work, and because Camp Hale is here in Colorado and I've been there, I wanted to know more about its beginnings and the part soldiers from there played in World War II.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Poetry Friday - A Good Taste

       It's Poetry Friday, and Mary Lee Hahn is hosting HERE on her blog, A(nother) Year of Reading, with some intriguing words about 'secrets'.  Be sure to see what she and her 'inklings' have to say about them. 

       And, it's Groundhog Day! I don't have a poem about that, but I hope that someone will! Thanks for hosting, Mary Lee!     

         It's rather nice that Mary Lee's hosting from "A(nother) Year of Reading" because I have a poem about books. You probably know I work at a used bookstore. It's a non-profit run entirely by volunteers. And, it is a membership store, though you do not have to be a member. People join for a year and receive a certain number of credits to 'spend' on nearly all the books in the store, and when some are priced (we list on Amazon), they get 15% off of that price. It has hundreds of titles and is a place one seems unable to leave without a book! We rely entirely on donations which, if you donate, you can add to your credits! We do purchase a few best-sellers for one shelf and take special orders. I wish each of you could come visit!

one small area - paperback trade fiction

My Appetite


Books give a soda fizz,

sweet icing on a cake,

salt and pepper in a stew,

a chocolate ice cream shake,


Books taste like lollipops,

mint by the garden wall,

first strawberry ripe and read,

pasta with a huge meatball.


Books know the tang of lime;

they don’t forget the spice.

They flavor dim sum pages.

Their menu’s worth the price.

Linda Baie © 

I'm ready for another year of reading! 📚

Monday, January 29, 2024

Monday Reading - Books to 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! Nearly done, but reading for the Cybils is both wonderful and takes time. I'll be able to share my reviews after Valentine's Day, when the winners are announced! Here are a few from the previous two weeks.

         In the nineteen-seventies there was Pottstown, PA; nearby was Chicken Hill, full of negroes and immigrant Jews, others from across the ocean, turning to America for its promise; sadly, as James McBride writes, they were "moving into an American nothing". Yet, like today, they are a society of good people with a few despicable and frightening ones in the bunch. It begins with a mystery when, years later, a skeleton was dug up with no means of solving this whodunnit! But as readers know, when you put a gun on the mantel, that gun has to be used sometime in the story. When finished, remember to return to the beginning and re-read it. It'll give you a big, big smile! It is a marvelous story, unfortunately with parallels to today, over fifty years later.

Thanks to Candlewick Press for these next two! 

            This was published a few years ago by Walker Books, but thanks to Candlewick Press for a new copy. This Little Donkey loves grass, will only eat grass, and sad to say, he turns green, and only realizes it when he's thirsty and dips into a stream for a drink, then sees his reflection. Oh, my, he needs to find something else to love! Anushka Allepuz's brief poetic words, even letting this little donkey make a rhyme or two about his love(s), give us a fun, but cautionary tale, with bright, colorful illustrations. Wait till you see what his next food choice is! 

         Jyoti Rajan Gopal was inspired to write this poetic story through her experience of balcony singing in Italy during the Pandemic. One note begins and it swirls throughout the neighborhood in musical poems. One can almost hear the notes with the fabulous full-color pages illustrated by Sonia Sánchez. It is such a delightful inspiration to, at least, hum along while reading! Here's one example toward the end: 
           Ten notes swirl
            and whirl and wing,
            sparkling, glittering,
            a living thing."

From my library!

         Here, readers learn of three families who celebrate their children growing up by sharing about hands, ones that fit inside the parents' hands, but soon, seems so fast, before one realizes, those hands won't fit anymore but move on to learn and create, bring love, too, but inside and outside the family. They are diverse families, and one child is deaf; there's a small glossary showing some of the sign language used in the story. Elizabeth Lilly's illustrations fill us up with family life, the fun and the foibles that happen every day, and then the future grown kids and how they're doing now, all with brief, enjoyable text by Jonathan Stutzman. 
 I'm sure adults will love this, too!

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Poetry Friday - About Piñatas - Sort of


            It's Poetry Friday, and Susan Thomsen is hosting HERE on her blog, Chicken Spaghetti for Poetry Friday.  Susan also has taken the challenge described below and written about the "Passaic piñata"! Thanks for hosting, Susan!     

         It's already the end of January - wow! Time really does fly! Tanita Davis of those creative Poetry Sisters wrote this at the end of December for this month's challenge:

 Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge for the month of January! Here’s the scoop: We’re writing ekphastic poetry on… piñatas. No, really. Those hollow-hearted paper beasts we love to beat might not be something you think are poem-worthy – usually – but you’ve NEVER seen piñatas like these. Featured on PBS’s fabulous Craft In America series, we’re celebrating the humble piñata as elevated by Robert Benavidez. Check out his work. Are you game? Good! Whichever of his creative creatures and absolutely out-there works of art that you choose, you have a month to craft your creation and share it on January 26 in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

       At the risk of saying what others must also be saying, these Piñatas are fabulous, though I can't imagine taking out a long stick to break them open! Surely it's a no-no! You can find the page of all of them here!



pinatas mostly hold sweets to eat

now imagine they’re doggy treats

                                 for dogs deserve our gratitude                                

for warmth when cold in solitude

as hiking partners through the night

they give protection from a fright

and comfort when we stroke their coat

soft, inviting, worry antidote

when you need a body stretch 

instead of playing games like fetch

the latest in the best of show

their downward dog shows how to go


Linda Baie ©

            Thanks, #PoetrySisters for giving us wonderful challenges. This was fun and the pinatas. as I wrote earlier, too, are wonderful! 

             Last, thanks to those whose postcards I've received already! I'm saving them up for a big post later. They are a light in January!  ~Linda

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Poetry Friday - Getting Outside!


It's Poetry Friday, and Robyn Hood-Black is hosting HERE on her blog, Life on the Deckle Edge for Poetry Friday. Be sure to visit her today, to enjoy a cup of tea, along with poetry!

               Obviously, I don't need to remind everyone that it's been cold! I hope that everyone made it through this "weather event" with little mishap! Our Wednesday in Denver was the first day it became a day to #getoutside, the hashtag I'm often reminding everyone to do on social media. I went to our City Park where our beautiful Nature and Science Museum sits, with a lake, broad views of our mountains, and so often, gaggles of geese (poetic, right?. ) Among them, this is one view I noticed. In our year of political woes and foes, I do wonder what qualities make a leader? And how does it work with animals? Some are the fiercest, others are the largest, and perhaps we can't know because of language barriers, could some be the wisest? 


Three geese flying in,

wander wiggle into line,

trusting the leader

to find the way 

to good eating.

A grassy field waits.

          Linda Baie ©

Where they were headed.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Monday Reading - A Few for You!


        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! 
         Hope everyone had a great first week of the year! My family finally had our Christmas gathering, late, but much fun to be together! Now time to focus on the Cybil's and a bit more reading for readers here, too!

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

        I forgot to share this at the end of the year! It would be good to have read the original story of the little match girl before this one, but it isn't necessary. There is background from the author and illustrator at the end. It's appropriate for young middle-grades, nicely written from the Little Match Girl's POV. This time, as Emma Carroll writes through the girl's voice, she wants more of the true story to come out and be based on real historical events. Although there's some magical realism included too. It's both an inspiring and heartbreaking story of those who toiled just to make the most meager of a living, while, as the maker of matches, becoming very ill from the constant exposure to white phosphorus. For young readers, this may be the first knowledge of how group resistance can be powerful! For an early reader book, it's full of interesting parts to discuss. (You can read about the original at the end of this list!)

           This book shows the beauty of how nature takes care of so much, this time after a whale dies. Melissa Stewart takes readers on an amazing journey after a whale dies and falls to the ocean's bottom. From that time, the books ends with this giant totally disappearing from many, many sea creatures using it for their sustenance. Melissa explains what and how, step by step. Rob Dunlavey's illustrations illuminate the ocean habitat's beauty page after page, starting with those who first smell the whale, like the hungry hagfish. They travel far to find what might be their first meal in weeks, per Melissa's words. The whale may have lived for long years, but this time, in a way, it gives back for perhaps another fifty. From hagfish to the tiniest of creatures, "hundreds of species–millions of creatures" have been able to live because of the whale dying. There is much more information in the backmatter with many creatures illustrated and described, plus selected resources and a list of books, articles, books, and videos for further exploration. It's terrific and really wonderful to read and learn about this.

          Young children may know that some of their food comes from fields and gardens, but Maria Gianferrari adds much more knowledge about food and the many, many reasons to "Thank A Farmer" in her newest book! From wheat to milk, fruits and veggies, to various kinds of rice, then mushrooms and maple syrup, she wants us to be sure to know that farmers should be thanked. The text is brief, and each part ends with a lovely lyrical phrase, like with maple syrup, "syrupy and sticky!" There are also gardens shown in cities and schools, plus backyard pots (like the tomatoes in mine!). The ending section shows that farmers also are thankful–for people helping, animals in various tasks like 'carrying' and 'giving', and machines! Full-color illlustrations by Monica Mikai bring the words to life with green-growing worlds filled with diverse people doing all the tasks needed, also including the animals and machines, small worlds and large. Young readers will smile at familiar scenes and learn from others. Added information at the back is brief and includes interesting facts, like how often dairy cows are milked, how long people have been tapping maple trees for syrup, plus information about the help worms give. There must be countless ways to share this book with children to show them what they see in the supermarkets and eat at home have stories to tell, and thanks to give. It's terrific!

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Poetry Friday - Keeping the Days

It's Poetry Friday, and Tracey Kiff-Judson is hosting HERE on her blog, Tangles & Tales for Poetry Friday. She is sharing a delightful history overview of Monopoly pieces, the changes and, perhaps, what it means when you chose one of the pieces as a favorite, plus, a poem about one. Be sure to check this post! Thanks, Tracey!

            I couldn't turn the calendar pages with you last week because I was still having Christmas! My son and family couldn't make it until after the new year so all of us had our holiday together last weekend. It was wonderful and over all too fast!

            So, I'm sharing a poem I wrote a while ago which I take out every year to remember the old times and to inspire me to start again, writing and keeping the days in my own notebook!  I cobbled together words from a diary of my husband's paternal grandmother, Lora, (husband, Roy) for my year's beginning poem, her days!

On the inside cover, she wrote:  Be a lamplighter.  We shall shine as the stars of the morning.  


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! 

Monday, January 1, 2024

Monday Reading - New Year Beginnings


        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 may not be sharing much in the next few weeks as I am a Round Two Cybils judge, so I will be reading, re-reading, taking notes, and discussing the finalists in order to choose the winners! If you want to check out ALL the finalists, they'll be announced on January 1st-- today! You can find the site here! I imagine your stack will grow just as it does here every week!

          This wonderful book written and illustrated by Jane Mount brims with book love, a story of a young shy girl, Lotti, who keeps herself hidden "behind a book". That's the easy way to show how hard it feels for her to make friends, even to interact with her brother, a budding artist. Readers will look over and over at the pages filled with books, including brief reviews of a few, as Lotti talks about her life with books and what they bring to her, slowly, slowly, friends! The cover gives a peek of the extraordinary number books included inside in stacks and stacks. I imagine every reader seeing favorites and making lists of what they'd love to read next! It's a special book! There is an author's note, too, along with a page of Jane's favorite books, plus Lotti's recipe of her "friend-making cookies". 

           I know of Ursula Nordstrom and know that she was the editor for many favorite children's authors and their books, but Beth Kephart brings more of Ursula's life to readers in this picture book biography with tidbits of stories of some interactions with authors, along with her journey from childhood to great success. I imagine everyone will enjoy the conversation with Maurice Sendak about ending one of his books and her willingness to be honest with another when she knew she'd made a mistake. Chloe Bristol's illustrations support well the historical details, like the double-page spread showing Ursula in front of the New York Public Library, referring to her conversations with "librarians, teachers, parents about her favorite books of all– good books for bad children"  There is an author's note and a source list for those who want to know more. 

          First published in Korea, then by Owlkids Books in the U.S. Nearly wordless, there is that crow in its corner. As it fills the corner with "things", readers will become more and more curious as to "What's next?" You need to see it to discover the answer!