Saturday, August 13, 2022

Tracing Stars by Erin E Moulton

Tracing Stars by Erin E Moulton was published in 2012 and is the story of Indie Lee Chickory. She doesn't fit in at school or in the town. She loves fish and has a pet lobster. She doesn't mind that she smells bad from fish heads and guts, but everyone at school teases her because of it. 

She wants to fit in to please her sister, but she finds giving up on her values may be hard when she befriends another misfit. She tries to keep her new friendship a secret so that she can be accepted by her sister Bebe, and her friends. Owen, Indie's new friend, is a well-written character who is such a good friend and good person. 

I really liked how this book portrayed kids this age. I liked that they were struggling with self-awareness and awkwardness. I liked the growth that was portrayed in the characters. The cover of this book is beautiful and there is plenty of white space on the pages. I also liked that no parents were harmed in the creation of this story. 

 


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

Link to our NICU book registry 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, July 31, 2022

Hidden by Helen Frost

Hidden by Helen Frost was published in 2011. This story is written in verse, and I found the story compelling enough to read in one sitting. 

The story begins from Wren's point of view as an eight-year-old who was unintentionally kidnapped by a car thief. Her sense of fear is well written. 

From page 15, "I was shaking.                                                                                                                                                         Trying hard not to cry.                                                                                                                               How could I sleep                                                                                                                                                  in the crowded boat?                                                                                                                                   I was thirsty.                                                                                                                                                    Hungry.                                                                                                                                                            I had to pee."

In the next section we get to hear the point of view of the kidnapper's daughter. Her story is also written in verse, and pay attention to the end word of each line because they let the reader know what else was happening. I found this cleverly crafted. 

Darra is upset that her abusive father has been sent to jail, which some readers may find unbelievable, but I understand the desire to have a father in your life even if he isn't a good father. 

Later, the girls meet at camp and things become even more interesting as they both have trauma they act out. 

I think teen readers will like this book, and I will add a copy to my classroom. 


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

Link to our NICU book registry 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, July 28, 2022

Your Name by Makoto Shinkai

Recently Matt (my youngest son) has introduced me to light novels. Light novels are generally written before the author/artist writes the Manga. I enjoy watching anime, but I'm not a fan of manga because for me it takes so much work to decode all the pictures. I love words, so light novels are right up my alley. I definitely want to get some of these for my classroom. 

Your Name by Makoto Shinkai was published in 2016 and has a manga and anime that go with it. This story has two main characters: Mitsuha, a high school girl who lives in a small mountain town, and Taki, a high school boy living in Tokyo. 

They begin to have what they think are dreams about each other even though they've never met - except they aren't dreaming. They are switching places. These switches are sometimes comedic and sometimes confusing for both of them. Will they ever be able to meet in person, or will the stars get in their way? I loved the symbolism of threads and cords in this novel and how the author wove everything together. 

I enjoyed reading about Japanese culture and look forward to visiting there sometime when they reopen to tourism. 

Quotes I liked: "Joinin' threads is a called musubi. The passage of time is musubi. It's the name for our god, and the god's power. It describes the braided cords we make, divine acts, and the flow of time itself" (59). 

"Puttin' anything in your body is also called musubi. What you put in your body binds to your soul. . ." (60).

The anime that goes with this book is beautiful, so if you get a chance to watch it, do. 

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

Link to our NICU book registry 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, July 14, 2022

Amina's Voice by Hena Khan

Amina's Voice by Hena Khan was published in 2017 and is one of the books I purchased a few months ago when I was looking for books by POC. I really liked this book about Amina, a girl who plays the piano and sings beautifully, but she is afraid to sing a solo. 

She has two good parents and an older brother. Her family is Muslim, and I enjoyed learning more about their faith. While their faith is important to her family, this isn't a book about religion. This is a book about friendships, change, growing up, and learning to be brave in hard situations. 

This book is beautifully written and has wonderful cover art. I look forward to reading Khan's other novels. 

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

Link to our NICU book registry 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.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Tomorrow I'll be Brave by Jessica Hische

 Tomorrow I'll be Brave by Jessica Hische was published in 2018, and it's a darling book with a wonderful message. I found out about this book from one of our NICU families. They brought it to read to their baby, and Angie sent me pictures of some of the pages. This family recently sent 10 more copies of this book for our NICU book project, and have now donated 20 copies of this book. 

This is a great book for babies in the NICU. It reads, "Tomorrow, I'll be adventurous. I'll play and I'll explore. I'll make or learn or try something I've never done before. Tomorrow, I'll be strong. I'll climb and jump and run. It doesn't matter if I win as long as I have fun!" The ending message is that even if the child doesn't do it today, they can try again tomorrow, and of course, they will always be loved. 

Every parent in the NICU is waiting for the day they get to take their baby home, and this book is a great one to read to their baby while they are growing. 

We recently received book donations from three donors, and they are greatly appreciated because we are quite low on books right now - especially board books.  

These are the books that were donated by one of our NICU graduates. 


My friend, Grace, donated $20, and these are the books, I purchased with her donation. As a teacher, I am good at finding deals on books to get the most out of every dollar. 

My friend, Tanya, sent these books from our Amazon baby registry. 


Combined with books I've purchased, I'll be able to send more packets to Angie next week. I love that these babies are getting read to early as it will help them when they start school. The more words a child hears before kindergarten, the easier reading will be for them. 

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

Link to our NICU book registry 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, July 3, 2022

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell was published in 2008. This non-fiction book shows how factors other than intelligence, ambition, and personality create successful people. 

Blurb from the back of the book: In understanding successful people, we have come to focus far too much on their intelligence and ambition and personality traits. Instead, Malcolm Gladwell argues in Outliers, we should look at the world that surrounds the successful - their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way, Gladwell reveals what the Beatles and Bill Gates have in common, the reason you've never heard of the smartest man in the world, why almost no star hockey players are born in the fall, and why, when it comes to plane crashes, where the pilots are born matters as much as how well they are trained. 

The lives of outliers - people whose achievements fall outside normal experience - follow a peculiar and unexpected logic, and in uncovering that logic, Gladwell presents a fascinating and provocative blueprint for making the most of human potential.  

I listened to the audio book and found it interesting and feel this book is important for teachers and parents to read. I wish he had included a woman outlier in this work - are there no women outliers?

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

Link to our NICU book registry 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, June 23, 2022

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas by Yoru Sumino

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas by Yoru Sumino was published in 2013 and has manga and anime to go with the light novel I read. 

I watched the anime before reading this light novel, and so many of my questions were answered by reading the book. The art in the anime is incredibly beautiful. The title makes it sound like a slasher story, but in reality, the title is a tender thing the characters say to each other. This is a story of friendship and love. 

When the main character finds a diary of one of his classmates, he discovers she is dying from a pancreatic disease. He is the only one outside of her family who knows that Yamauchi Sakura is dying. She is an extrovert and fun loving. He is very quiet and keeps to himself. She helps him step outside of himself and see more of life. She takes him on her journey to do things she wants to do before she dies. 

Quotes I liked: "I was greeting the house. This is where I've grown up. The place is important to me" (155). 

"Everyone is where they are because of the choices they've made. . . All the choices you've made brought us together. You and I met by your own decisions" (178).  

"Living is sharing connections with other people" (199, 200).

"When you are all on your own, you don't know who you are" (200).

"The flooring had darkened at the edges along the wall, as if fragments of the pervious patients' illnesses had accumulated there and wouldn't let go" (210).


I enjoyed this touching story and find I prefer light novels to manga. 

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

Link to our NICU book registry 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, June 17, 2022

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

 Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George was published in 2009 and is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I love a good retelling of a fairy tale, and this one was quite good.

The story is told in third person omniscient, so the reader gets to see what the villain, Galen (the hero), and Rose (the oldest princess) are doing. I liked that all of them have a back story. 

The princesses are cursed to dance night after night, even if they are ill, and the dancing is taking a terrible toll on their physical and mental health. Their father offers his kingdom to the prince who can discover where his daughters go at night and break the curse, but so far, no prince can figure out it out. 

Enter, Galen who is a returning soldier and kind, young gardener. He wants to help the princesses, but he doesn't expect to be given the kingdom as he is a commoner. 

This story has many twists and turns. I listened to the audio version and found it well narrated. 

The text is larger and there is plenty of white space on each page. This book has a beautiful cover. 


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

Link to our NICU book registry 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, May 30, 2022

2021 NICU Book Project Donation Totals

2021 NICU Book Project Donations - can you believe it's been seven years since we started this project!

I started collecting books in 2014 for the NICU where my daughter works to honor the lives of my own twins and also of two grandchildren who did not survive pregnancy. As a reading teacher, I see that children who are read to have better attention spans and do better in school. It took me a year to gather 150 books sorted into packets of 5 books each. I delivered them in September of 2015. I had only planned on making this one donation, but the books were so appreciated by the parents that I kept on gathering books.

Other people started donating books so we could try to send every NICU baby home with a packet of books. Parents read these books to their babies during their often lengthy stays, helping their baby's brains and creating bonding moments full of love. 

Each packet has a half sheet handout explaining why it is important to read to your baby. I put at least one board book in each packet, and we also create packets for families whose first language is Spanish.

We started 2021 with plenty of books from all those who were worried that we would run out because of the pandemic, and just now we are getting low on books again. 

We collected 1,036 books this year from over 40 donors. We benefited from an Usborne Book Drive that gave us over 100 books. I appreciate each and every book that is donated. Reading to babies is so important for brain development, and I love that all these babies benefit from this project. 

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

If you'd like to contribute to our project use the link below. If you are clearing book shelves, I am happy to take gently used books for this project

Link to our NICU book registry 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.

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James was published in 2018. The author had a huge goal with this one: combine a ghost story, two murder mysteries, two time periods, a Holocaust story, and a romance in one book. I was pleasantly surprised at how well she wove everything together. 

I love historical fiction, and St. James added the Holocaust connection and kept it real even though this is a ghost story. As a mystery, St. James did an excellent job of setting up suspense that kept me listening. I listened to the audio version of this book, and it was well narrated. I love a good ghost story, and this one was just scary enough. 

This story fluctuates between present day and 1950. The main character, Fiona, had an older sister who was murdered and her body was found on the grounds of an abandoned boarding house. When the boarding house is sold and the plan is to refurbish and reopen it, Fiona finds it brings her grief right back to the surface. 

Fiona is a reporter, and tries to find out more about the boarding house, the person who plans on restoring it, and the holes in the narrative of her sister's murder. Her search leads her to another story from 60 years ago, and the truth may put her own life in jeopardy.

 



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

Link to our NICU book registry 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, November 24, 2021

Stones in Water by Donna Jo Napoli

Stones in Water by Donna Jo Napoli was published in 1997. This story is set during WWII and begins in Italy and is loosely based on the true experiences of Guido Fullin. During WWII, German soldiers kidnapped Italian teen boys and put them to work building air strips and doing other work for the Nazis. The boys were not treated well. They went hungry, were beaten, and many were killed. 

The main character of this story is Roberto, and he, his brother, and two of his friends - one being Jewish are taken prisoner and forced to labor for the Germans. He works to keep the Germans from discovering that his friend, Samuel is Jewish. 

During their captivity, Roberto learns a lot about the world, other people, and himself. He learns about survival and endurance. I enjoyed this story and will order the second book, Fire in the Hills to learn more about the Partigiano - Italian resistance fighters during WWII. 


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

Friends of the NICU held an Usborne book drive and sent us 118 books. Usborne books are great for kids as they are durable and fun. 


The Mellow family donated these cute books in honor of their nephew Liam. These books will have a bookplate letting the family who receives them know that they are in his honor. 

Megan Smith sent these book.

We received monetary donations from Grace Olsen and Janet Gleue.

We greatly appreciate each and every donation to our book project. 

Link to our NICU book registry 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, September 30, 2021

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker was published in 2020, and after reading this, I've decided that Pennypacker is one of my favorite authors for young people. I recently read another book in her Clementine series (which is great for early readers), and it was excellent. 

Pennypacker knows how to get in a kid's head and see things the way a kid does. Her characters are incredibly real; she is a wonderful storyteller, and her writing is stellar.  Her characters seem to have a vulnerability and gentleness about them, which makes them all the more likeable. 

Here in the Read World is about Ware, a boy who feels awkward in his own skin. He is eleven years old, and supposed to be spending the summer with his grandmother while his parents both work overtime so that they can afford to buy their home. However, something happens to grandma and that means that Ware must go to the dreaded Rec center for the summer instead. 

Ware sneaks away from the Rec center, and goes next door where he discovers an abandoned church and a very salty girl, Jolene. He's been sheltered by overprotective parents his whole life, and now he has a chance to help build something important. In creating a refuge in this abandoned lot, Ware begins to see who he really is.  

I loved the symbolism in this story. I listened to the audio version, which was well narrated, but I want to reread the book so that I can annotate because there are many great quotes in this story. 

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

We’ve had several donations to our book project this month.  

Britney Shaw sent this book.


My neighbor, Michelle, sent these.

Grace donated money, and I purchased these books from Scholastic. 

I spent the last of our donated money from last year on these books from Scholastic. As a teacher, I am able to get a good price plus get free books from the points earned by purchasing. So that means more books for babies. 

Heidi Crezee sent these. 

Sharise Case brought this book. 
Link to our NICU book registry 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, July 12, 2021

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

 A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles was published in 2016, and I had heard a lot of hype about this book, so I was a bit hesitant to read it because often those books disappoint me. I listened to the audio version, and it was well narrated. 

I found the story slow moving, and for a bit wondered if I'd continue on, but I'm glad I did. The writing is gentle and beautiful. Towles builds the story of Count Alexander Rostov who is sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life in a hotel across the street from the Kremlin. The story covers many years, and while it develops slowly, it's worth it. 

I enjoyed the civility of Rostov, his gentle nature, and his ability to bring out the best in people with the exception of that rotten manager. His friendship with Nina is delightful, and when he becomes an uncle/father figure to her daughter, it's beautiful. 

I enjoyed reading about his friendships, and by the end was sorry to see the book end. 


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

Link to our NICU book registry 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.

The Winter Horses by Philip Kerr


Every so often, I read a novel set during WWII that teaches me something completely new that I didn't know before. Such is the case with The Winter Horses by Philip Kerr, which was published in 2014. 

Kerr's story is based on truth, legend, fiction, and just a bit of magic. 

The story is set in the very real nature preserve at Askaniya-Nova in Ukraine, which during WWII was part of Russia. The horses are Przewalski's - pronounced shuh-vahl-skeez primitive wild horses that have never been domesticated. 

During the German invasion of the nature preserve, most of the horses were killed by the Germans, causing this endangered species to nearly become extinct. This is the story of how Kalinka, a Jewish refugee, and Max, the caretaker of the preserve, work to save two of the horses that survived the massacre. 

This story shows how the actions of the Germans during WWII hurt more then human life. They felt the horses were inferior to German horses and should be extinct. They thought them too cunning and clever, and not as beautiful as domesticated horses. Przewakski's horses are much smaller than other horses, and no one has ever been able to tame them. 

All of the current 2,000 Przewalski's horses are descended from just nine of the 31 horses that survived WWII. Most of these 31 horses were located on in other countries in zoos that had purchased them from the preserve before the WWII. 

I listened to the audio version and it was beautifully narrated. 

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

Link to our NICU book registry 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, July 11, 2021

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates was published in 2019 and was recommended to me by my good friend Kathryn, and I listened to the audio version narrated by Melinda Gates. 

This book is well written and putting the philosophy of this book into practice would make the world a better place. Often when Melinda would go to help with a problem, she would have an idea in mind of what she wanted to have happen without understanding the root of the problem. I like that she listened and learned to those she wanted to serve in order to fix the problem instead of just putting a band-aid on it. 

Melinda Gates tells many stories of people she met that helped her see the world in a new way. She is a teachable person who listens, learns, and acts to make the world a better place. I feel inspired by her actions, and appreciate that she has blessed the lives of so many. I love that she sees how making the world a safer and better place for women and girls makes life better for the entire human race. 

The cover art isn't great, but the book is wonderful. I have several students who would really like this book. 


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

Link to our NICU book registry 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.