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!