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.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese

 A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese was published in 2019 and is a fun story of wishes. When three friends find themselves able to eavesdrop on people making wishes in an old well, they are able to help some of those wishes come true, but not in ways they or the reader might expect. 

I like the connections between things, people, kindness, hope, and just a bit of some type of magic or luck. This story shows the value of friendships and the importance of taking care of each other. 

My only complaints about this story are the injury inducing sequence that seemed very unrealistic to me and the frequent sentence fragments, but there is so much good in this story. 

Quotes I liked:

"...when you save a person's life, you then become responsible to that life" (93).

"For Ryan the other shoe never just dropped. The universe usually threw it at you" (135).

"Ernest firmly believed that condescension could keep a kid small, and not just figuratively. That it could literally, physically stunt your growth" (137).

"Ryan had let all that fear take over. He'd let it make him someone he didn't like at all" (218).

"Stories bind us together; they connect us. Our stories are a shared history, a way to relate to each other. Even if they are make-believe" (298).

"You can't fix the world. But you do your best in your own little corner of it. And you hope" (301).

"Tommy couldn't remember ever really being afraid of the dark. From an early age, he always had more practical things to fear" (301).

If you need some hope in your life, this is an uplifting book about both the bad in some, but the good that is in so many more. 


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, July 5, 2021

The Best Man by Richard Peck

The Best Man by Richard Peck was published in 2016, and this book is set in current day instead of Peck's usual practice of telling stories of a by-gone era. 

Peck is a good storyteller. I liked that Archer has two good parents who love each other. This book is funny, so I need to lend it to my granddaughter  who loves books that make her laugh. 

I like that Peck handles LGBTQ+ issues in this story in a beautiful way. 

Peck writes about school situations that always make me laugh. Even though there are a lot of laughs in this story, Peck knows how to be serious when necessary. 

A quote I liked:

"Archer, honey, change doesn't care whether you're ready for change or not. Change happens anyway" (137).

Read to a child even if that child is you. 

We've had a few more book donations. 

The author dropped this book into my little library, so I grabbed it for the NICU babies. 


My granddaughter Callie donated this cute pop-up book. 


This selection of board books was donated by H.ailey

Angela Jensen sent this fun selection. 


 Every donation helps us give books to babies. Thank you all so very much. 

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, June 9, 2021

The Boy Who Howled by Timothy Power

The Boy Who Howled by Timothy Power was published in 2010. This is a fun and often funny story of a boy who was raised by wolves. It is perfect for middle grade students with a Lexile of 870. It goes into detail about the grewsome act of wolves taking down their prey, but other than that, this book is lighthearted and will delight readers with the funny antics of Callum and his wolf family. 

This book goes deeper than I expected it to. Callum, the main character knows just what qualities alpha dogs/wolves/people should have. He explains beta and omega traits and can communicate with canines. I think this book would be fun to discuss with young readers. 

Book blurb: "Callum doesn't exactly fit in with his family. He can't sprint through the forest on all fours or take down a deer with a single snap of his jaws - and sometimes he worries that dad may see his as dinner. But Callum works hard to  master the ways of the wolf pack (while trying not to look too delicious). And for a while, it works. In between chasing prey, Mom and Dad even let him howl at the moon with them. 

    "Then the pack sends Callum back to the live with his own kind - humans - and blending in becomes even more of a challenge."

If your child likes funny books, they will enjoy this fast paced story. 


We've received a few more books for the NICU, and I appreciate the generous support we receive.  

Marci Kormylo sent this selection. 


Nancy Schmutz sent this selection. 

An anonymous donor sent these.

Christy Tucker sent these books. 

Thank you for your continued support of our NICU 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.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey and Dow Phumiruk

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey and Dow Phumiruk was published in 2017 and tells the story of Maya Lin, the young woman who created the design for the Vietnam Wall Memorial. 

She was born to Chinese immigrants who fled China. "Her parents had fled China at a time when people were told what to be and how to think. Her parents never told Maya what to be or how to think." Her mother was a poet and her father was an artist who made art with clay. In college, Maya wanted to be an architect. 

In her last year of college, there was a contest to design a memorial to honor the soldiers who died during the Vietnam War. The rules were that the memorial must blend with a park setting and include almost 58,000 names of those who died fighting or who were missing in action. 

"These rules rang true to Maya. She knew the power of names. Maya believed that a name brings back all the memories of a person, more than a photo of a moment in time." 

When a young college student, unknown to the art world was picked as the winner, some people objected, but her design was approved.

"The first time Maya visited the finished wall, she searched for the name of a father of a friend. When she touched the name, she cried, just as she knew others would."

The art in the book by Dow Phumiruk is beautiful and peaceful keeping with the design of the Vietnam Wall. I'm happy to add this book to my home library. 

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

Allyson Gilmore donated this book to our NICU. 


Unnati Pandya donated this selection. 

Thank you for your continued support of our NICU 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.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Kindness to Share from A to Z by Todd and Peggy Snow and Kirsten Sevig

 Kindness to Share from A to Z by Todd and Peggy Snow and Kirsten Sevig was published in 2008. I collect alphabet books, so when this one came up as the $1 book at Scholastic, I had to get it. 

I like that Sevig's illustrations show children and families of many backgrounds, so every child can see themselves in this book. This book is a wonderful way to introduce and have a list of things to bring kindness to the world. "Ask someone to play with you. Bring flowers to a person who needs cheering up. Collect canned food for people who are hungry. Do something nice for another person just because. Entertain the younger kids at a family party."

And speaking of kindness, we've had many wonderful donations to our NICU book project in the last two weeks. 

My friend, Michelle, was pairing down her personal collection and sent us quite a few hardback books. She sent these:


And these:
and these:
Thank you Michelle, for you generous donation. 

Here are more of the books that we purchased with a cash donation we received last year. I've been buying them with my teacher Scholastic account and using the bonus points to get even more books for the NICU. 

My daughter, Caitie Jolley, had an Usborne book party, and got us some difficult to find Spanish hardbacks. These are so appreciated. 

A kind person saw a mention of our project on FaceBook and sent these cute board books to our project. Thank you, Allyson Gilmore. 

Angela Jensen, one of our regular benefactors, sent these fun books. 

In the last year, we've had a regular anonymous donor buy board books in both English and Spanish for our project. They include a bookmark and a flyer about the benefits of reading to your baby. I love that they do this for us. 

We greatly appreciate every single book that is donated to our project as it allows the parents of our NICU babies to feel a little more normal in a stressful situation and environment. Your kindness brings light and helps create positive memories. 

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, March 19, 2021

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

 Ghost Boy by Jewell Parker Rhodes was written in 2018 and is an interesting story that blends the contemporary shooting of twelve-year-old Jerome who is shot by a white cop who mistakes his toy gun for a real one. Although Jerome's life ends at the beginning of the story, his ghost lives on, and he is able to observe the lives of those he loves, the family of the police officer who shot him, and he is joined by the ghost of Emmitt Till. 

I like how Rhodes weaves the stories of the two boys together and how she addresses the effects of this shooting on the police officer and his family - especially his daughter. 

This story brings up many great discussion topics that are important today in our world. "Only the living can make the world better" (203).


Rebecca Belliston sent us these darling board books for our NICU babies. These are so appreciated! Thank you, Rebecca. 


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.