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. 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Poetry Friday - That Time People Flew


            It's Poetry Friday, and Irene Latham is hosting HERE at her blog, Live Your Poem with a post rich with all kinds of poetry shared, also a question you will like pondering that actually connects to the book I'm sharing today.  Thanks for hosting, Irene!  
            And thanks to Candlewick Press for the pleasure of reading and now sharing Rhiannon Giddens' new book, We Could Fly, a companion to Build A House. You can find that review here. Scroll to the bottom of the post for it. That book is a song that Rhiannon wrote to honor the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth. 

            And are you familiar with this book, a collection of American Black Folktales told by Virginia Hamilton, published in 2000? I read them aloud to my students, among other stories from other cultures and then their own stories were written, shared, and illustrated. It became a special unit of discovery.
           Now, Rhiannon says in her author's note that she grew up listening to these tales, especially loved the final "magical" one where 'People Could Fly'. When working with a producer to finish her album, "Freedom Highway", they thought they needed one more song. Rhiannon shared about that favorite story and a song was born!

Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

           A mother's child tells her she feels a tingling in her arms and her mother says that her mother, Granny Liza, felt that, too, long years ago. "Perhaps it's time. . ." and this poetic story begins as shown with ethereal illustrations by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu. Here is one example of the breathtaking beauty of this book, favorite pages of mine, followed by the song, with the book's words and illustrations on YouTube. The words in the book differ only slightly.

Poetry telling stories makes me want more! Do you have a story you'd like to tell?

Monday, November 13, 2023

It's Monday - Another Wonderful Group to Share!


        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!  The National Book Award winners are announced this coming Wednesday. If you're interested, the YA list is here. The first book today, The Lost Year by Katherine Marsh, like Gather by Kenneth Cadow that I shared last week and A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat that I shared a few weeks ago are all on the list. I enjoyed every one and imagine I will like the others when I can read them. Also, enjoy NCTE if you are going!

         There must be numerous stories that come out of the first year students were experiencing lockdown because of the pandemic. Overnight, they'd lost their friends, their every interaction in person, now, if they had it, stuck only together via the internet. This book by Katherine Marsh is about such a student, Matthew, but also based on her own family history, the Ukrainian famine during Stalin's time in power, how it evolved, what people did, or tried to do, here in America  . 
         Matthew is stuck, and as it begins, he's more stuck than most because his mother has recently moved his great-grandmother (name - Nadiya) but called GG (for, as Matthew says "for great-grandmother, obviously) into their home from a nursing home. He cannot even have a friend near to visit in the backyard. It's too, too dangerous. Now, he's living in online learning but mostly in his Switch gamer, until out of frustration from his mom, she takes it away and sends him outside, then gives him a task, to help GG go through all the boxes still stored in her room. Matthew's dad, whom he misses terribly) is a reporter on a big job in Paris and yes, you guessed it, now he's stuck there. It appears there's no hope for Matthew!
         Matthew isn't happy, has been reluctant to even be with GG for most than a few minutes to bring her a meal, etc. Yet, he does start, and after a few other crazy things that happen, out of one box, with GG's permission, he brings a photo. 
         Author Marsh soon surprises with a new chapter from long ago that intertwines with Matthew's. First we meet Mila, then Helen, both from years past, and from different parts of the world. The book is poignant, showing resilience and thoughtful children growing up into young adults  affecting their own stories. They are willing to take risks, some life-threatening, all life-altering. It's a spectacular story of courage and of a history that needs telling, of the holodomor, or the Ukrainian famine of  1932-33which means "death from hunger" in Ukrainian. It seems particularly sad while considering the events in the recent year plus since Russia has attacked Ukraine.
        There's an extensive author's note at the end, with photos!

Thanks to Walker Books -
Division of Candlewick Press
for this copy!
           I haven't read the first one about these silly (also energized and resilient) chickens but this is one I imagine kid readers will laugh over as pages turn and adventures arrive. And they will find changes as the time traveling unfolds. Those chickens don't always remain chickens, and while they try very hard to make outlandish knock-knock jokes, they don't often succeed. There are pages of activities (and warnings if it's a library book) and tests, yes, tests! Obviously, in this back-in-time world, it's good to pay attention. There's even a history of rules about messing up things in the past, causing ripples that should never happen in the future. I loved every fun page, crammed full of fun and funny events that shouldn't be missed!

        I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of this book from Nancy Tupper Ling, a beautifully illustrated book of brief poems by Nancy of various Bible verses. For bedtime or perhaps at snack time, it will make a nice way to introduce some stories from the Bible to young children. From Noah and the flood to the special story of Jesus' birth and the tale of Adam and Eve, gorgeous illustrations by Alina Chau will entice the young ones to want to know more. It encompasses the Bible's entire story arc, a loving beginning to telling this story. My brother has a young granddaughter this will be perfect for. I will certainly pass it on!