Saturday, May 18, 2019

Bunnies by Kevan Atteberry

Bunnies written and illustrated by Kevan Atteberry was published in 2015. This cute story has a monster saying hello to the world: trees, clouds, butterflies, and bunnies. Of course the bunnies are terrified of the monster and run and hide from it.

This saddens the monster and he says hello to the bush, the stump, the rock, the slug, and the bunnies, but they run and hide again. The monster becomes more and more sad.

He sits and says hello to a log, a stick, the dirt, and the bunnies, watching, come out of hiding and say "hi" to the monster. They spend time happy and playing until the monster sees something else to say hello to. 

The illustrations are brightly colored and help a child learn colors. The facial expressions on all the creatures are darling. I can't wait to share this book with my grand kids.



We've received more donations for our NICU book project. Thanks to everyone who donates to this project.

This group was sent by Angela Jensen.

My Angie donated this group:


My friend, Michelle, sent this one over:

A mystery person dropped these off at the NICU. Thank you for thinking of us. 

Tayla Nash donated these:

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.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Friends of the NICU to the Rescue

Recently we ran out of books for the NICU babies, but some friends of the NICU came to the rescue.

I also wanted to show you a book that I recently bought for the NICU and wish I could have 500 of them, so that the next 500 NICU babies could get a copy of this book. It is completely perfect. It's a book about living, being loved, and remembering to breathe. Breathe

The pictures are wonderful and the words are peaceful and gentle. I need to get a copy for my own home, but when I saw this book, I felt it was perfect for the parents in the NICU who are willing their babies to grow, get well, and to breathe so it is in a packet for a NICU family.







Isn't the art just wonderful - and Beluga Whales - oh, my heart. I have all the feels about this book. I'll be getting another copy for myself soon. 


Check out these cute books that are headed to the babies because of the wonderful people who support our book project.

Caitie brought this one by:

My sweet neighbor and friend, Karyn V donated the money for us to purchase these 27 books. My sweet teacher friend, Marla, gives us any points or bonuses that our order generates, so we got two extra books.

The next two pictures show the 39 books that Michelle Aikeen and her family donated. She picked books that she loves to read to her own children. Mother Bruce is completely adorable.


 Angela Jensen sent these cute books. I love The Big Hungry Bear.


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, May 1, 2019

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This is a new to me author, and I plan on reading more of her work. Tayari Jones is an excellent storyteller. I listened to the audio version of An American Marriage and felt like I was watching a movie in my head. Her words paint images that come alive for the reader.

An American Marriage was published in 2018.

Blurb from Barnes and Noble: Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward—with hope and pain—into the future.

I liked that this story shows what it is like to be Black in America today. I didn't particularly like the main characters. They are flawed and very real, but I liked their stories. Roy senior was my favorite character from this novel. He was a wonderful father to Roy and his scenes with Andre toward the end of the novel are incredibly well written.

I liked Celestial's career of making dolls and could imagine them in detail.

I liked that Roy stayed true to who he was. He had many good qualities; he was a flawed human, but he was not a rapist. I liked that he tried to get into the head of his accuser and see things from her point of view. I found his relationship with his roommate in prison fitting.

I found his mother's illness heartbreaking. So much of this story is heartbreaking. I think the ending was fitting considering Roy's character.

I like Tayari Jones style of writing and am glad I learned of her work. This is a book that will stay with me.



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 26, 2019

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson was published in 2019 and is a sister book to Speak. Shout is Anderson's autobiography told in poetry form.

I needed this book to be published this year because it gives me hope that just maybe, my own autobiography will some day make it into print. I'm not famous like Anderson. I've yet to publish a book, but for years I have tried to write my history for my children. Every attempt has failed because there are many sad parts to my growing up and the writing of it caused me to sink into depression.

I started writing my story as poetry, and I've been able to continue writing because I can deal with the sadness as long as its just one poem at a time.

Shout will help those in the #metoo movement speak out. I love the title of this book. The poetry is written in free verse and is quite raw at times, but life is often raw, and in these bite sized pieces we can hear it without breaking.



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, April 24, 2019

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul and Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul and Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon was published in 2015 and tells the story of Isatou Ceesay, a woman who saw a problem and did something about it.

In her town, the litter of plastic bags has caused goats to die and has become an eyesore. She and the women of the Gambia gather the discarded plastic bags, wash them, cut them into plastic yarn, and create fashionable and useful purses and bags out them. At first the women are laughed at, but them one woman buys a purse, and soon everyone wants one.

From their earnings, the women contribute to an empowerment center that gives free health care and literacy classes and also shows the dangers of burning plastic.


This book includes a Wolof glossary and pronunciation guide of the words used in the book. This book is uplifting and shows the difference one person can make if they have an idea, act on it, and share it.



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 5, 2019

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan was published in 2015 and I found a copy of this book at one of my local Little Free Libraries.

In this novel, Ryan sets out to do a lot. The story is told in five parts, a preface, and four other parts. The preface begins in 1864, fifty years before WWI. Part one is set in Germany in 1933 as Hitler rises to power. Part two is set in Pennsylvania in 1935 where children often reside in orphanages. Part three is set in Southern California in 1942 and tells about migrant workers and Japanese interment camps. Part four is set in New York City in 1951 and has all the stories come together.

I didn't know the stories would come together and felt annoyed as each part ended because I got so attached to the characters, and I thought, "You can't just leave it like this. So when you read this, don't worry, Ryan ties it all together.

The way Ryan wove a fairy tale, a Holocaust story, a story of two orphans, a story of a migrant family, and incorporated Japanese interment camps is quite masterful. I bow down to her writing expertise. The stories are connected by a harmonica. Harmonica music is in the book, so your child can learn to play the harmonica. I listened to the audio version of this book and it was masterfully told with a different narrator for each part and included the music pieces, which was a nice touch.

Parts of this story made me cry, and I felt so involved in the characters' outcomes. If you want your child to appreciate music and fairy tales, this is a great book. If you want your child to understand history: The Holocaust, The Great Depression and its aftermath, the plight of migrant works, and Japanese interment camps, this is the book.

Each part gives the reader the desire to learn more about the history Ryan shares. This book is part fairy tale but mostly historical fiction and is a work of art. It won a Newbery Honor in 2016, but it probably should have won the gold.




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, April 3, 2019

A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms by Paul B Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka

A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms by Paul B Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka was published in 2005 and would make a great addition to any classroom or home library.

As a teacher, this would have been great to have when teaching poetry and creative writing. It contains twenty-nine different types of poems with simple directions on how to create a poem of that type and an example of each type of poem.

This book is incredibly well organized and makes finding the type of poem easy as the table of contents is organized by poem types instead of poem titles. There are poems from well-known writers included in the book.

The illustrations are bright, colorful, and a bit funny making poetry accessible to children. This will be a go to book for all thing poetry for me.


As a teacher, if you only buy one poetry book for your classroom this year, get this one.

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 29, 2019

Hi Lo Book List

I thought I'd add my Hi Lo book list to the blog. Hi Lo books are books that appeal to teens but are easier to read. They are generally fast paced, have more white space on the page and have shorter chapters. Often the font size is larger. The covers are often quite attractive to teen readers. Many of these books have under 200 pages, but there are a few that are over 300. The story lines are generally direct and easy to follow. I included books that can help students bridge to higher reading levels. These books have more complex story lines with time shifts and often multiple story lines.

I have only added books that I've personally read and feel comfortable recommending. If you are an author who would like me to review a book that might fit on this list, please let me know.

Hi Lo Book List
Curated and Compiled by Catherine Crosby @ www.Buildinglifelongreaders.blogspot.com

Lexile
Books Designated and Marketed as Hi/Lo
500HL
Michael Vey by Richard Paul Evans – Science Fiction, fantasy; superpowers, evil scientist, mind control, manipulation, friendships, trust, betrayal, fast paced, more white space on page, short chapters, great cover, first in a series of five and all but one are designated HL, 326 pages
520HL
The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender – Autobiography. This is her account of her time spent in concentration and death camps during the WWII Holocaust. 264 pages. This is the first of a three book series. 
520HL
Running for my Life by Ann Gonzalez – Realistic fiction; mental illness, abuse, running, friendship, good characters, more white space on page, okay cover, 235 pages.
530HL
Benito Runs by Justine Fontes – Realistic fiction; Iraq war, PTSD, anger management, running away from home, more white space on page, short chapters, great cover, 98 pages.
560HL
Wired by Sigmund Brouwer – Mystery; skiing, snowboarding, burglary, larger font, more white space on page, short chapters, great cover, 104 pages.
610HL
Beneath by Roland Smith 2015 – Realistic Fantasy/Adventure. Brother must fight his fears to rescue his older brother. Danger, going under NYC, cults, homelessness, friendship, siblings, bravery, more white space on page, short chapters, 264 pages.
650HL
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen – Realistic fiction; amputation, running, friendship, determination, great characters, fast paced, short chapters, great cover, 336 pages.
680HL
The Selection by Kiera Cass – Dystopian: A futuristic book that mimics the television show, The Bachelor, friendships, class war, romance, betrayal, beautiful cover, more white space on the page, 327 pages.
680HL
Under a War-Torn Sky by L. M. Elliot – Historical fiction: WWII American pilot shot down behind enemy lines, hunger, torture, resistance to Nazis, allies, friendships, PTSD, inspired by true stories, fast paced, more white space on the page, short chapters, 284. First book of two. A Troubled Peace is the second book and has a Lexile of 820.
700HL
Girl Stolen by April Henry – Realistic Fiction; kidnapping, blindness, self-sufficiency, friendship, fast paced, intense, strong female character, more white space on page, 213 pages.
HL700
Inhuman by Kat Falls – Dystopian: war, biological warfare, biological disasters, mutants, friendships, betrayal, loyalty, violence, cool cover, more white space, larger font size, short chapters, 375 pages. First book of a two-book series.
710HL
Legend by Marie Lu – Dystopian; war, family, friends, courage, trust strong male and female characters, fast paced, intense, point of view changes, font color changes when point of view changes, good cover, first in a series of three, 305 pages.
HL720
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige – Fantasy: A continuation of The Wizard of Oz where everything has gone wrong and Dorothy is evil. Violence, fast pace, more white space, short chapters, 432 pages, first book of a four-book series. Students need background knowledge of The Wizard of OZ to understand this book.

Figure 2. Books Not Designated as Hi/Lo but that Work as Hi/Lo
Lexile
Books Not Designated as Hi/Lo, but that Work as Hi/Lo
500L
The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender – Autobiography; teen Holocaust survivor, writing, poetry, simple language, larger font, good cover, first in a series of three, 264 pages.
520L
The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo – Realistic fiction; relationships, death, ethical treatment of animals, death of mother, abuse, good characters, more white space on page, poor cover, 116 pages.
530L
Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury – Adventure, realistic fiction; natural disaster, earthquake, tsunami, friendship, scouts, survival, good cover, 191 pages. 
570L
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate – Realistic Fiction based on the true story of Ivan the gorilla from Atlanta Zoo; Animal cruelty and neglect, environment, friendship, communication, art. This book has a tremendous amount of white space on the page allowing students to focus and read. Short chapters, 320 pages.
570L
Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor– Realistic fiction; mental illness, learning disabilities, neglect, strong main character, larger font, more white space on page, winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, babyish cover, 290 pages.
570L
Heartland: Coming Home by Lauren Brooke – Realistic Fiction; horses, death of mother, accident, trust, horse whisperer, friendship, family relationships, larger font size, more white space on page, great cover, first of a series of twenty, 140 pages.
580L
Beastly by Alex Flinn – Traditional literature; fairy tale told from the Beast’s point of view, romance, magic, friendship, larger font size, more white space on page, short chapters, great cover, 304 pages.
580L
Zach’s Lie by Roland Smith – Realistic fiction; witness protection program, drug smuggling, identity, friendship, fitting in, short chapters, good cover, first in a series of two, 211 pages.
590L
Searching for David’s Heart by Cherie Bennett – Realistic fiction; sibling relationships, friendship, accidents, heart transplant, anger, adventure, larger text size, poor cover, 220 pages.
590L
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli – Realistic fiction; high school popularity, friendship, strong female character, larger font size, more white space on page, good cover, first in a series of two, 186 pages.
600L
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko – Historical Fiction, Sports; living on Alcatraz, Al Capone, disabilities, family, friends, more white space on page, first of a series of two, 215 pages.
620L
Haunted Sister by Lael Littke – Mystery; mental illness, death of sister, large font, more white space on page, great cover, 217 pages.
650L
Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan – Mystery/Horror: vampires, theft, friendship, spiders, monsters, circus, parental relationships, sibling relationships, death, pretty dark at times, more what space on page, larger font, short chapters, good cover, 257 pages.
650L
Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn – Mystery; ghost story, drowning, beach, good cover, 187 pages.
650L
Money Hungry by Sharon G. Flake – Realistic fiction about Raspberry Hill, a girl who has been homeless and now lives precariously in a bad neighborhood with her mother. She is obsessed with making money because she never wants to be homeless again. Larger font, plenty of white space, short chapters, interesting characters and situations. Great cover. Coretta Scott King award.
650L
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff – Realistic fiction; foster care, trust, family, larger font, more white space on page, great characters, good cover, Newberry Honor book, 166 pages.
660L
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney – Mystery; kidnapping, mental illness, romance, high school age characters, family, great cover, first in a series of six, 184 pages.
670L
Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz – Action, mystery, science fiction; murder, intrigue, fast paced, dangerous situations, close calls with death or injury, great cover, larger font, more white space on page, first in a series of ten, 256 pages.
690L
Dark Life by Kat Falls – Adventure, mystery, science fiction; farming underwater, complex characters, danger, intense, fast paced, larger font size, more white space on page, great cover, first in a series of two, 297 pages.
690L
The Limit by Kristen Landon – Dystopian; family, kidnapping, political prisoners, economics, value of life and belongings, over spending, government control, intelligence, more white space on page, short chapters, 291 pages.
690L
Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements – Science fiction; invisibility, friendship, fast paced, mediocre cover, first in a series of three, 251 pages.
720L
The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn – Dytopian; rebellion against government control, people getting bar coded, strong characters, friendship, family, trust, first in a series of three, 256 pages.
730L
Ghost by Jason Reynolds – Realistic Fiction: Family, Family trauma, shoplifting, running, track, family violence, larger font, more white space on page, 180 pages. This is the first book of a series of four.
Unknown Lexile
Counting Wolves by Michael F. Stewart – Realistic fiction: mental illness, destigmatizing mental illness, fairytales, friendships, trauma. Wonderful cover, plenty of white space, short chapters, and a story that is fast paced, exciting, and a bit scary. Definitely content that older teens can relate to. 215 pages.

Figure 3. Books to Bridge Hi/Lo Reading Experiences to Grade Level Reading
Lexile
Books to Bridge Hi/Lo Reading Experiences to Grade Level Reading
620L
The Last Dog on Earth by Daniel Ehrenhaft – Science fiction; epidemic illness, step-parent, fast paced, exciting, strong main character, short chapters, good cover, changes in point of view; reminds me of I Am Legend, 234 pages.
650L
When She Was Good by Norma Fox Mazer – Realistic fiction; mental illness, abuse, intense storyline, flashbacks, great cover, 228 pages.
660L
Holes by Louis Sachar – Realistic fiction; juvenile punishment, obsessions, loyalty, fast paced, exciting, relatable characters, more white space on page, changes in point of view and flashbacks, good cover, Newberry winner, first in a series of two, 233 pages.
670L
Crazy by Han Nolan – Realistic fiction; multiple personality disorder, mental illness, parts of story are told by the voices (personalities), fast paced, intense, foster care, abuse, more white space on page, time changes, good cover, 348 pages.
670L
Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen – Realistic fiction; bullying, fighting, reparative justice, alcoholism, abuse, relatable characters, bear attack, flashbacks, first half is fast paced but second half slows down, good cover, first in a series of two, 240 pages.
680L
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan – Fantasy, Historical Fiction: Fairy tales, WWII, The Great Depression, orphans, migrant workers, Europe, United States, music, families, siblings, Japanese Internment Camps, beautiful cover, more white space, short chapters, 587 pages. This book is a work of art.
700L
The Angel Experiment by James Patterson – Science fiction, fantasy; human/avian experiments, loyalty, flying, PTSD, fast paced, exciting, great cover, larger font, more white space on page, extremely short chapters, first in a series of nine, 413 pages.
710L
Dread Locks by Neal Shusterman – Mythology, Fairy tales; Goldilocks, Medusa, mystery, horror, fast paced, dark, geared toward older teens, more white space on page, short chapters, great cover, 164 pages.
750L
Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman – Historical fiction; women’s rights in India, family roles and structure, students will need background knowledge of WWII, strong characters, more white space on page, good cover, 243 pages.
750L
Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney – Realistic fiction: Refugees, war, family roles, diamond trade, immigration, suspense. More white space on page.
750L
As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds – Realistic Fiction: families, blindness, pulling together, grandparents, birds, nature, guns, hard work, large font, plenty of white space, 410 pages.




Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin by Susan Goldman Rubin

Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin by Susan Goldman Rubin published in 2000 tells the heartbreaking story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis. She was an art teacher and art therapist who was sent to the Terezin concentration camp.

She had been given an opportunity to escape but couldn't bear to leave her husband and family, so she stayed. When packing for Terezin, she filled her suitcases with art and drama supplies and used these supplies to help the children of Terezin. She organized plays for the people to view and to perform in. She hid thousands of their drawings, paintings, and artworks. These are now on display in many museums.

"Of the 15,000 children who passed through Terezin, only 100 survived" (42). That is chilling and horrific.

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis did not survive the war. She was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in October of 1944 with 30 of her students and they all were killed. Her husband survived.

Friedl Dicker- Brandeis was a hero and a light in a horribly dark place. She did all she could to ease the suffering of the people of Terezin. She was an amazing artist, but did not do much art while in Terezin as she wanted to save the supplies for the children. The book includes pictures of some of the artwork and it is pretty haunting, especially when you see that most of the artwork was done by children younger than 12 and most of them were murdered by October of 1944.

Quotes I liked:

"If we're only given a day, we have to live it." (8) ~ Friedl Dicker-Brandeis

"I turned out more courageous then I had supposed." (12) ~ Friedl Dicker-Brandis (May I live by this quote even though I am somewhat of a coward.)

A poem by 11 year-old Ivo Leo Katz who died at age 12:
"Some day we shall outrun this hour,
Some day there will be comfort for us,
And hope again burst into flower,
And peace and guardian care restore us.
The jug of tears will break and spill,
And death be ordered: 'Hush, be still!'" (43).

When  I think of the talent, the intelligence, the humanity of those who were murdered by the Nazis, I am saddened to the core. What might they have done, become, or their children become? How much knowledge, advancement of humanity was lost in the death camps?



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.