Sunday, May 10, 2020

Remarkable by Lizzie K. Foley

Remarkable by Lizzie K. Foley was published in 2012. This fun book is about a town where everyone is talented and intelligent, except for Jane. Jane is just plain ordinary. 

This story is really out there in a fun way. There are sea monsters, pirates, parrots, and lost musicians in town, which leads to a series of adventures for Jane and all the people of Remarkable. 

I liked that Jane was able to see why all of us are important in our own ways, and just because someone is gifted in one area doesn't mean they are gifted in all areas. 

This story is quite silly, and it is just right for a middle grade child. I think my grand daughters would enjoy this book. 



Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill was published in 2000. The author was raised in Fairbanks, Alaska and taught school for more than thirty years, most of which was spent teaching in one-room schoolhouses in the Alaskan bush.

I liked this story set in 1948 because it shows a good teacher accepting the kids for who they are. She teaches with kindness and shows her students why it's important to learn the things she's teaching. I loved that she taught Fred's deaf sister, Bokko, sign language, and how the other children learned it and began communicating with her.

This teacher made a difference while respecting the culture of her students. She even taught the parents of the children.

This is a good book for middle grade students.


Lindsey brought by some T-shirts and buttons for me to make headbands for healthcare workers. She also brought books for my little free library, but I snagged some of them for the NICU. Thanks, Lindsey for gifts.



Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.







Friday, April 10, 2020

All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot

All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot was published in 1973. I listened to the audio version which was expertly narrated. I didn't want it to end. I felt like I was listening to this old country veterinarian tell me stories from his life's practice in a soothing voice using humor and tenderness. This is the second book after All Things Great and Small which I am currently listening to.

James Herriot does all he can to help the animals he treats. He is not a perfect man but is flawed and likable. He described things in a manner that I felt like I was standing alongside him watching him work. He treats mostly farm animals, but he he treats domestic animals as well and is trying to grow that part of his practice when this story takes place. The stories in this book are from the late 1930s and early 1940s.

I think any animal lover will enjoy this book. You may even like this book if you don't like animals as the stories are told in an engaging and humorous fashion.

Herriot's books are soothing, tender, and funny - perfect for listening or reading during the pandemic.


One of our NICU's graduates recently held an Usborne book drive for our NICU to honor their first birthday. Here are the darling books we received from their family and friends. I love Usborne books. They are well made and have cute stories. Thank you for the donation and happy birthday. 




Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli was published in 2015 and quickly became the movie; Love, Simon. I enjoyed the movie and wanted to read this book.

I ended up listening to the audio version, which was well narrated, and I liked it more than the movie. There are two scenes in the movie that didn't ring true to me, but those scenes were handled much differently in the book, so the part of me that loves a good story was content.

This book is about Simon, a gay teen who is not yet out. We find out in the opening sentences that a classmate has read an email Simon sent to another gay teen. Simon's classmate proceeds to blackmail him into setting him up with a girl who Simon is friends with.

I like that this story deals with hard subjects such as the coming out story and who that story belongs to. This book addresses the fear of being shunned, teased, or not accepted when one comes out. The teens in this book are navigating friendships and betraying friends even when they don't mean to. It also talks about forgiveness - who to forgive and who not to trust again.

This book has an amazing theater teacher. All kids need a teacher like her.

This is a book for older teens as it contains adult language and situations, but it's an important story for many.



Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

I've found myself struggling to focus on reading during the shelter in place. I hope the rest of you are enjoying reading. Stay home and stay safe.

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier was published in 2014. I enjoyed this, just right for middle grade, scary story about two Irish children seeking a place to live. They find employment at an old English manor house. This house has a strange tree growing from the side of it, and the tree is a bit more spooky than they realize. 

I liked the relationship between Molly and Kip. I also liked their relationship with the children of the manor. The magic of the tree was interesting. I liked the theme of storytelling that went all through the story. If you have a middle grade child who enjoys being scared, they will enjoy this story.

Quotes I liked: 

"Doctor Crouch was the sort who needed to be right about everything. You could tell him his head was on fire, and he tell you why you were wrong, even as he burned" (238).

"What's a storyteller but someone who asks folks to believe in impossible things" (267).

"Hester asked me what the difference between a story and a lie was. At the time I told her that a story helps folks. 'Helps 'em do what?' she asked. Well, I  think I know the answer. A story helps folks face the world, even when it frightens 'em. And a lie does the opposite. It helps you hide" (278).



Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah was published in 2016. My niece, Emily, recommended this book to me, and I loved it. I found laugh out loud funny but also tear inducing. He tells about his childhood in South Africa. The writing is good. As someone who had an unusual childhood, I could relate to some of his childhood.

Trevor Noah was child who did not feel guilt even when he did something wrong. My childhood was spent feeling huge amounts of guilt. I've been writing my own memoir, and my daughter who is proofreading it said, "You had so much guilt for such a young child." Yes, I felt guilt for everything - if it was my fault or not did not matter.

Quotes I liked:

"Imagine being thrown out of an airplane. You hit the ground and break all your bones, you go to the hospital and you heal and you move on and finally put the whole thing behind you - and then one day somebody tells you about parachutes. That's how I felt" (31).

"In America the dream is to make it out of the ghetto. In Soweto, because there was no leaving the ghetto, the dream was to transform the ghetto" (40).

". . . a knowledgeable man is a free man, or a least a man who longs for freedom" (60).

"My mother calls it 'the black tax.' Because the generations who came before you have been pillaged, rather than being free to use your skills and education to move forward, you lose everything just trying to bring everyone behind you back up to zero" (66).

"'Because,' she would say, even if he never leaves the ghetto, he will know that the ghetto is not the world. If that is all I accomplish, I've done enough" (74).

"The first thing I learned about having money was that it gives you choices. People don't want to be rich. They was to be able to choose. The richer you are, the more choices you have. That is the freedom of money" (188).

"People love to say, 'Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime.' What they don't say is, 'And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.' That's the part of the analogy that's missing. Working with Andrew was the first time in my life I realized you need someone from the privileged world to come to you and say, 'Okay here's what you need, and here's how it works" (190).

"The hood was strangely comforting, but comfort can be dangerous. Comfort provides a floor but also a ceiling" (219).

"Growing up in a home of abuse, you struggle with the notion that you can love a person you hate, or hate a person you love. It's a strange feeling. You want to live in a world where someone is good or bad, where you either hate them or love them, but that's not how people are" (267).

I loved how hard his mom fought for Trevor to have a better life. I would love to have her write her life story. She is quite the woman.

Thanks for the recommendation, Emily.



Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Family of Poems collected by Caroline Kennedy, Illustrated by Jon J Muth

A Family of Poems collected by Caroline Kennedy, Illustrated by Jon J Muth was published in 2005 and included Kennedy's favorite poetry for children.

This book is separated into sections and contains poetry by many of the masters. The sections are: About Me, That's so Silly, Animals, The Seasons, The Seashore, Adventure, and Bedtime. There is a poem for most occasions. I was pleased with the diversity of authors and poems.

The illustrations are watercolor paintings by Jon J Muth and are absolutely beautiful.

Favorite lines:
"The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing:"
      ~From Saint Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell

"A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn't catch up to him,

the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion."
     ~From The Rider by Naomi Shihab Nye

"In winter I get up at night
and dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day."
     ~From Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson



This book contains 136 pages of poetry for children with beautiful art.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Memories by Lang Leav

Memories by Lang Leav was published in 2015 and is a book of poetry about relationships, love, and lost love. I normally am not a fan of love poetry, but this collection is quite good and profound.

I found this copy in a Little Free Library and it is beautifully bound with thick creamy paper.

Quotes I liked:

"And as you are sitting there alone and hurting, I wish I could put a pen in your hand and gently remind you how the world has given you poetry and now you must give it back" (9).

"The moment words found me, they burrowed themselves into my bones, they settled like dust in my lungs until I felt them every time I breathed in and out" (47).

"Always With Me" page 191

Your love I once surrendered,
       has never left my mind.

My heart is just as tender,
       as the day I called you mine.

I did not take you with me,
      but you were never left behind.


If you haven't visited a little free library, you can look up one near you by clicking Here. I keep a box of books in the trunk of my car, so I can swap out books with ones I want to read, or so I can book bomb those that are low on books. Feel free to visit my little free library and take or leave a book.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Dodger by Terry Pratchett

Dodger by Terry Pratchett was published in 2012. I listened to the audio version, which as well narrated. After reading and loving Good Omens, I wanted to read more by Terry Pratchett. Pratchett has quite the sense of humor and often draws the reader into the narrative but not in a jarring way.

His writing reminds me of watching a play where the audience is a part of things, but not a character.

Dodger is a seventeen-year-old street-wise urchin. He supports himself by picking treasures out of the sewers. The story begins with Dodger rescuing a girl from her captors and continues on with Dodger meeting Charles Dickens, Sweeney Todd, and Benjamin Disraeli. Pratchett mixes reality, history, fiction, and fantasy to create this fun story that made me laugh. I'll be on the look out for more of his work.



Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams and Catherine Stock

Last week, I found this wire motorcycle at a charity shop, and it made me think of Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams and Catherine Stock, which was published in 1990 and is a Reading Rainbow book. I thought I could get my grandkids together and read this book and then let them attempt to make their own Galimoto. Now we will have to wait a bit while we work on social distancing.


Galimoto is the story of a boy named Kondi who is only seven-years-old. He wants to make a Galimoto (this means motor car in English). He lives in Africa and doesn't have enough wire. The story follows him as he uses his ingenuity to gather enough wire to create a truck. He has made a puppet and ball out of found items, so this book is great for helping kids create useful things from found items.

The watercolor art by Catherine Stock is beautiful.


Angela Jensen sent us ten more books for the NICU babies. Thank you, Angela.


Read to a child today even if that child is you. 


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Importance of Stone Soup

We've all heard the story of stone soup where hungry and weary travelers come into a town. The villagers are worried the travelers will take too much, so no help is offered to the travelers. The travelers decide to make stone soup, which incites the curiosity of the townspeople who now want to help make the soup better. By the end of the story, all are fed, rested, and friendly.

I've highlighted this book before on this blog, but it's important to share it again during this pandemic. As we go shopping and are unable to find what we need, hopefully our neighbors will be able to add to our Stone Soup.

Once a year, my grandchildren gather for our Stone Soup party. Each child brings an offering for the soup. I start out with a stone and some water. We read the story and then each child adds their offering in the order it is added in the book. Even the pickiest of eaters is excited to taste the creation, and they can see the importance of each person's offering. The soup needs each one of us to be the best it can be.

There are a lot of retellings of Stone Soup available. My favorite is out of print (of course - if I like a book it goes out of print).

Marilyn Sapienza retells the story and her characters are so much fun and a bit over the top with their emotions. Hans Wilhelm is the illustrator and his drawings add the personality to this story published by Weekly Reader in 1986.

Max and Molly are the travelers. Mr. Ratfink and his family are the first to notice the travelers are almost to their village. They warn the villagers and soon the entire village is closed up tight to the weary travelers. All of the villagers are animals (not a human in the story). By the end of the tale, they have learned to share and all have become friends.

I love the last lines of this story: '"How can we thank you for the secret recipe?' they called.
'Share Stone Soup with everyone,' sang the travelers."




On the very last page is the recipe for Stone Soup:

"Heat some water in a pot.
Add some stones you've scrubbed a lot.

Sprinkle pepper, salt, and herbs.
Let it boil undisturbed.

Drop in carrots, onions too.
Let the soup heat through and through.

Stir in milk to make it sweet.
Add potatoes for a treat.

Toss in meat cubes. Let it stew.
Let it bubble. Let it brew.

Taste the soup and when it's done,
Share Stone Soup with everyone."

We end up with extra vegetables besides carrots and onions because I have thirteen grandchildren, but that makes it even better.

May your water and stones be added upon until what is created is rich, soothing, hearty, and healthy for you and all of your loved ones.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.


Friday, March 13, 2020

The Queen's Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner

The Queen's Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner is a series of five books, but I just found out there is a sixth book that will be published in August of this year. Book one, The Thief, was published in 1996 and was introduced to me by our wonderful librarian at South Hills Middle School for Brown Bag and a Book.

The story is about a thief, Gen, who has been imprisoned for bragging about stealing from the king. The mangus needs a thief to steal an ancient treasure and chooses Gen to help him attain it for his king. I enjoyed this book but didn't continue reading this series until I found the third book in a Little Free Library.

I listened to the series on audio and it is well narrated. The series gets darker as it progresses, but it has moments of levity. There is a lot of adventure and action in this well written series. Things are never as easy as they seem when Kings, Queens, kingdoms, wars, and intrigue are involved.

Book One: The Thief

Book Two: The Queen of Attolia

Book Three: The King of Attolia

Book Four: A Conspiracy of Kings

Book Five:Thick as Thieves

Book Six: Return of the Thief Available for pre-order now. I look forward to reading this book.


Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Floyd Cooper

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and illustrated by Floyd Cooper was published in 2010, and I purchased this book for the art. I discovered that the story is also important. I didn't read it until I got it home, and I am glad to have this book in my library.

Ruth and her family drive from Chicago to Alabama to visit her grandmother. Unfortunately, people are racists and because Ruth and her family are Black, they have a hard time finding places where they can use the restroom, buy meals, or stay the night. When they get to Tennessee, a friend recommends they look for Esso service stations because they'll be treated well there. They are able to buy a Green Book at Esso that lists places that will treat them well on their journey.

I like this book because while it's appropriate for use in an elementary school, there is enough information to use it in a middle or high school setting. It touches on Jim Crow and other horrible racist practices, so an older student could use this as a jumping off point for research.

Also, the art in this book by Floyd Cooper is fantastic. I know I mentioned the art before, but seriously, this book is beautiful.


We've had donations to our NICU book project this week. Thank you to each and every one of you.

Rolean Peterson donated these four:

Angie Moore sent these six over:
  

The Ogden Mustang Hockey Team held a book drive and donated 33 books:


Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull

The Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull was first published in 2006. Matt and I read the first book and part of the second one and then he started having seizures and lost interest, so I didn't finish the series until recently. 

Matt and I met Brandon Mull when we were reading the first book, and he was so good with all the kids. He took time to greet each one, exchange pleasantries, and sign books. We commented that some of his fight scenes reminded us of the video game The Legend of Zelda, and he told us that he has gotten inspiration from that game. 

You will want to the read this series in order or you will be confused. This series follows siblings Kendra and Seth as they first learn that fairies and other fairy tale creatures are in fact, real. They visit their grandparents who run a sanctuary for fairy tale creatures and learn that others in the world are trying to harm these sanctuaries and change the balance of good and evil. 

The series gets progressively darker. The action is fast paced, font size is larger, and there is plenty of white space along with illustrations, so it's a good series for Hi/Lo readers. 

Quotes I liked:

"Choices determine character" (225 Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary). 

"Making mistakes is part of learning to choose well. No way around it. Choices are thrust upon us, and we don't always get things right. Even postponing or avoiding a decision can become a choice that carries heavy consequences. Mistakes can be painful - sometimes they cause irrevocable harm - but welcome to Earth. Poor choices are part of growing up, and part of life. You will make bad choices, and you will be affected by the poor choices of others" (279 Keys to the Demon Prison).

"Some imagine the difference between heaven and hell to be a matter of geography. Not so. The difference is much more evident in the individuals who dwell there" (562 Keys to the Demon Prison). 

I enjoyed this series and so have my older grandchildren. 



There are five books in this completed series.

1. Fablehaven

2. Rise of the Evening Star

3. Grip of the Shadow Plague

4. Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

5. Keys to the Demon Prison








Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell out of Tree by Lauren Tarshis

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell out of Tree by Lauren Tarshis was published in 2007. This a story about Emma- Jean, a girl who is not neurotypical.

Blurb from the back" Strange: adj. 4. extraordinary, remarkable, singular. That's Emma-Jean Lazarus the smartest - and definitely the strangest - girl at William Gladstone Middle School. The kids at school don't understand her. But that okay, since Emma-Jean doesn't understand them either. All that changes when she discovers Colleen Pomerantz sobbing in the girls' room. What happens when Emma-Jean decides to use her powers of logic to solve Colleen's problem? Emma-Jean's life gets messy, that's for sure, and she finds herself tumbling out of her well-ordered world and into the strangest place of all - her own heart."

I liked how this book showed Emma-Jean's process of problem solving. One of my favorite things in this book was the quilt made for her by her father. This is a sweet, gentle story with wonderful adults (mostly) and kids who are mostly kind. I liked that Tarshis shows how each person is different - some are more emotional, some more kind, some more honest. This is a good book for middle grade and middle school students. 



Kimberly Przybyla sent us this wonderful Mem Fox book for the NICU along with this note: This is one of my favorites to read to babies, I hope it gives some moments of peace and love for parents and babies during their NICU days. 

Thank you, Kimberly. 



Mem Fox is a wonderful writer. I love all her books. They are fun to read and kids love her words. 


Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.