Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Troubled Peace by L.M. Elliot

A Troubled Peace by L.M. Elliot was published in 2009 and is the second book of three. The first being Under a War-Torn Sky. I have not yet read the third book, Across a War-Tossed Sea, but I will because I loved both the first and second books.

A Troubled Peace picks up after WWII has ended. Henry Forester has returned home, but he is suffering from PTSD. He can't forget about those who helped him escape. He returns to France to search for a young boy who helped him and to find his own internal sense of peace.

Elliot gets the battle with PTSD right. This is a powerful book.

Quotes I loved:

"Yes, their mission had saved countless American foot soldiers battling their way toward Berlin. But following orders only went so far against the morality of an airman's nightmares once he returned to base and reflected on what he had done" (12).

"How could he describe the flashbacks, the mess of past and present, his confusion between waking reality and nightmare. It was hard enough for Henry to understand how lost he felt while standing right there in his own home with the three people he cared about most" (27).

"Sometimes you get back on your feet better when you're helping someone else stand in the process" (31).

"How could anyone go on after witnessing that. . . That was how. One step in front of the other. Breathe in. Breath out. Remember the kindness, the bravery that managed to flicker amid such darkness" (81,82).

"Sometimes crazy actions carried their own logic" (82).

"'How will I find you?' 'Vivant, jespere.' 'Alive,' he hoped" (86).

"'Somehow she believes her time in prison, her ruined health, is all worth it to save boys like you.' Francois took a step toward Henry and grabbed the collar of his jacket. The gesture was not threatening but urgent. 'Be worth her sacrifice" (120).

"'Peace? Peace is not that easy, that finite, my boy. Many times that peace is troubled and contains the embers for the next war, smoldering, just in need of a spark" (171).

There were other quotes I loved, but this is getting pretty long. I loved this book, and I love L.M. Elliot's writing style. Five out of five stars.



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, January 20, 2020

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd was published in 2008. This historical fiction is set in Ireland in 1981 during a time of unrest. Fergus's older brother is in prison and on a hunger strike. Fergus is being pressured into acting as courier for the resistance. While digging peat moss with his uncle in a bog, he finds a dead child.

This little girl appears to have been murdered, and she comes to Fergus in his dreams to unfurl her mystery.

Dowd does a good job of weaving the themes of the dead child's life into what is happening to Fergus in his life. I enjoyed learning about the political conflict in Ireland and about the bog's ability to preserve bodies.



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, January 18, 2020

True ( . . .sort of) by Katherine Hannigan

True ( . . .sort of) by Katherine Hannigan was published in 2011. I loved the characters, especially Delly and her brother, RB. I love their relationship.

Delly is a girl who is generally in trouble. She is impetuous and imaginative. She makes up her own language, such as surpresents - presents that are a surprise. She fights with her older sister, knock down drag out fights and isn't afraid to fight at school, but her mother has shed tears over Delly's inability to control her impulses and Delly wants badly to be good.

In her quest to be good, Delly learns skills that help her, she makes a friend, and she helps her friend. RB is the sweetest little brother. She doesn't always want him around, but he loves her so much. Delly has two good parents who help her in her quest.

I found the relationships and behaviors realistic. Ferris Boyd and Brud Kinney are also wonderful characters and the story couldn't work without them.

I gave this book five out of five stars. I think it would be a great book to read as class. It brings up many important issues: consent, impulse control, bullying, abuse, and trust. Katherine Hannigan is a writer who writes middle grade and middle school books well.

Quotes I liked:

"'She doesn't talk,' she reminded him. 'Yes, she does. Just not like you.' Delly couldn't argue with that" (182).

"Then Brud didn't smile, or nod, or write anything. It was all too small for how he felt. He just stared at the sky, thinking, thanks" (221).

"'Delly,' the policewoman said softly, 'do you know why a person stops speaking?' She shook her head. 'It's because she's been hurt so badly she doesn't have words for it. Or somebody's told her he'll hurt her if she talks. She thinks her voice can't help her"' (336).



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, January 15, 2020

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou was published in 1994 and is a reminder of why she is such a great poet. I am writing a book of poetry, but reading her work both inspires me and makes me feel like a pretender.

Her poetry is powerful. Here is one of my favorites from this collection:

"Family Affairs"

You let down, from arched
Windows,
Over hand-cut stones of your
Cathedrals, seas of golden hair.

While I, pulled by dusty braids,
Left furrows in the
Sands of African beaches.

Princes and commoners
Climbed over waves to reach
Your vaulted boudoirs,

As the sun, capriciously,
Struck silver fire from waiting
Chains, where I was bound.

My screams never reached
The rare tower where you
Lay, birthing masters for
My sons, and for my
Daughters, a swarm of
Unclean badgers, to consume
Their history.

Tired now of pedestal existence
For fear of flying
And vertigo, you descend
And step lightly over
My centuries of horror
And take my hand,

Smiling, call me
        Sister.

Sister, accept
That I must wait a
While. Allow an age
Of dust to fill
Ruts left on my
Beach in Africa.

This collection is full of poems as strong as this one. She is truly a masterful writer.


Corbin Canfield held a book drive for our NICU for his Eagle Scout project. Thanks to all who donated. Most of these are headed for the NICU. Some will end up in the NICU waiting room and a few will go to local little free libraries.






 Anne Corts sent these books. Some will go to the NICU waiting room and some will go to local little free libraries.

We appreciate every donation because every donation gets books into the hands of children.


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, January 14, 2020

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup was first published in 1853, and I'm not sure how I never knew of it until now.

Solomon Northup was a free man who was drugged and kidnapped and then sold into slavery in Washington, D.C. in 1841. He was stolen from his wife and children. He was beaten and ended up in several plantations in Louisiana. After his rescue, he published a memoir of his time spent as a slave. Solomon was well educated and well written. His story is intense and was an immediate best seller - so how did I miss reading this forty-five years ago?

I can't imagine the heartache his family endured not knowing what had become of him.

I'm glad I found it now. I haven't seen the movie, but I'd rather read. If you saw the movie and read the book, was it as good as the book? This book is well worth the read. I gave it five out of five stars.



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, January 10, 2020

Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young was published in 2013. This fun time traveling tale about a father who goes out to buy milk and has quite the adventure. The book  is full of silly illustrations and reminds me a bit of Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl. Its just as fun and very imaginative.

There is an audio version, but make sure you follow along with a printed copy because the pictures are very fun. I think Kayana may like this book for the laugh factor. This should be a pretty quick read with a lexile of 680, lots of pictures, white space, and larger text.


We received our first NICU book donation for 2020 from Rolean Peterson. Thanks, Mom.
These little board books are perfect for tiny hands.



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, January 7, 2020

2019 NICU Book Project Donations

2019 NICU Book Project Donations

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 saw that children who were read to, had better attention spans and did 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.

Earlier in 2019, another hospital was opened in Layton, and we have added their NICU to our project. Angie (my NICU nurse daughter) oversees the distribution of book packets to the families.

Our total of books collected for 2019 was 1,739. We were the recipients of a few book drives this year and many generous donors. My mom donated some of the bags and McKay Dee donated nearly two thousand bags, so we will have bags to make our packets for a while.

All together, our donors contributed 1,065 books. Here is a list of our donors this year:

Kimberly Bailey and Friends - Usborne Book Drive
Corbin Canfield - Eagle Scout Project
Carrie Orr
88 books from several anonymous donors
Angela Jensen
Ana Lisa Tolman's daughter - book drive
Liam Heintz's Family and Friends
Brandon Hart
Michelle Aiken and Family
Angie Moore
Tanya Isabel and Hollie
Michelle Schwendiman
The United Way - book drive
Karyn Vigil
NICU Reunion - book drive
Anne Corts, Camille Warnick, and Mrs. Wintle's 3rd grade class
Deb Molloy
Teresa Moore
Rolean Peterson
Jen Staley
Crystal Loveland
Sue Walton
Megan Jones
Alysen Jeffries
Jamie Nilson
Sarah Bagley
Mia Myles
Maggie from Savers
Dani Phipps
Britney Shaw
Cayli Johnson
Renee Bond
Caitie Jolley
Tayla Nash
Christy Tucker
Anne Corts
Tom Murdock

I want to thank each and every person who donated to our project and to those who donated to the multiple book drives. I couldn't reach so many on my own. Your support is greatly appreciated.  It makes me happy that my little project to honor my babies has become our project and is growing and thriving. Together we are spreading literacy to the very smallest among us.

If you'd like to contribute to our NICU book project, you can bring new or gently used books to me or to Angie. You can also CLICK HERE to purchase books from our Amazon wish list. These books come to me and I put them in packets. If you have a baby whose life you'd like to honor, I am happy to make book plates for the books donated in their name. I am a mom and grandma who loves books and loves to get them into the hands of parents and children. We are not a foundation - just a bunch of people (all of our donors) who want to brighten the lives of those in the NICU.

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


Monday, January 6, 2020

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean was published in 2004. My copy came with an enhanced CD on which Neil Gaiman reads the story and honestly, the man could read the phone book and I'd want to listen. He's such a good storyteller.

This story is a lot of fun for middle grade readers. I would recommend this book for grade two and up.

This is the story of a boy who trades his dad for two goldfish, but when his mother discovers what he's done, he must go retrieve his dad. Unfortunately, his dad has been swapped for something else all over the town. His little sister is a great addition to the story and shows that everything goes much better when you listen to your sister.

The illustrations by Dave McKean are so much fun. There is a lot going on with them, so it may take a while for your child to get through this book.

I enjoy Gaiman's style of writing and McKean's artistic ability.



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, January 4, 2020

My Favorite Reads 2018 - YA and Adult

Here are some of my favorite reads for 2018.

Young Adult:

Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhouser. This is a story about a teen dealing with her mother's drug abuse. I think he captured the problems well.


A Troubled Peace by L.M. Elliot. This is the second book after Under a War-Torn Sky. This book tells about a soldier trying to deal with PTSD after WWII and his journey back to Europe to try to heal.


Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. This book is an adult book, but it will probably appeal to teens as well. This book is about the Apocalypse, only the anti-Christ has been misplaced. There are angels, demons, witches, witch hunters, and the four horsemen of the Apocalypse along with laugh out loud fun.


Counting Wolves by Michael F Stewart. I enjoyed this story about mental illness and how the author used the story of Little Red Riding Hood as an allegory for his story.



Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson is told in verse and is her autobiography. Because I am finishing up my own autobiography told in verse, this one let me know that my story is valid and could be published.


Adult books I loved during 2018:

Wild Seed by Octavia Butler is an amazing fairy tale of a woman who can't be killed and a man who can take the body of anyone around him who dies. The writing is incredible, and I loved every word.


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a book that shows what being Black in America is like for some. Tayari's writing is amazing, and even though I didn't particularly care for most of the characters, I couldn't put it down.


The Kite Runner by Hosseini Khalid. I've learned that all of his writing is good writing that pulls me into his stories and makes me feel what his characters feel. This story about childhood guilt, punishment, and redemption is completely beautiful.


Cane River by Lalita Tademy explains the importance color and all the varying shades of color in our society. Her relatives were put in some really bad situations because of slavery and because of color.


The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich is a beautifully told story about a rare moose skin and cedar drum made by an Ojibwe artisan. The story is set in current day, and goes back in time. I look forward to reading this one again. 


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, January 1, 2020

My Favorite Reads in 2018: Picture Book and Middle Grade

That doesn't mean they were published in 2018, it means I read them in 2018. I have too much of a to be read pile to only read books that were published during the year. I am often very late to the party where books are concerned. I read about 200 books a year, so this is long list.

Starting with Children's picture books, here are some of my favorite discoveries for 2018:

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld. This book teaches how to be supportive of a friend dealing with disappointment.
Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson. This is an excellent book to use at home or in the classroom and could be used in upper grades. The art is amazing.

Breathe by Scott Magoon. I wish I could give every baby in the NICU this book. This is something the nurses and parents say often to those tiny ones. This book is beautiful.

My Heart by Corinna Luyken. This is a sweet tender story about feelings.

For our Middle Grade readers, here are my favorites. Keep in mind that many middle school and high school students may also enjoy them. I'm a grandma and I love books for all ages.

True . . . (Sort of) by Katherine Hannigan. This book teaches about learning to control ones impulses along with what it takes to be a good friend.

Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by Alan Silberberg. If you have a child with a friend dealing with a parents's death, this is a great book with just the right mix of humor and seriousness.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk. Have you ever read about the island in the United States that was turned into a leper colony? I hadn't either until I read this book.

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan. I love Rick Riordan's work. I love that he helps other authors. I love that his books are inclusive of all people. This was my favorite of all his work that I've read so far.
 
Spilling Ink: A Young Writers' Handbook by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter. If you have a young writer in your life, they need this book.

I'll end here for today and do another post tomorrow with my young adult and adult favorites.

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.

Merry Christmas to our NICU Book Project

Merry Christmas to our NICU Book Project. Santa's helpers sent many books to Angie for the babies. She still has more to bring me from an Eagle Project.

I love that our little project has grown so much. We were able to add a second hospital this year, so now every NICU baby born in both of these hospitals will get books. I'll update year end totals once I receive the books from the Eagle Project, but I wanted to thank the generous people who donated the following books.

Crystal Loveland sent these books. I love Eric Carle books. She also included some Spanish books.

Caitie sent this book: love these shine the light books.

 Angie sent this one: Love the mom's face on the cover.

These were sent by an anonymous helper.

Anne Corts and Camille Warnick organized a book drive with Mrs. Wintle's third grade class. They sent these books and inside them were notes written by the children to the babies. This made my heart swell. They put them in this cute basket.

Inside the basket:

Here are their cute notes:

Ana-Lisa Tolman's daughter collected books for a service project. Check out all those Little Golden Books. She got some great titles in this collection. 




Another Anonymous helper sent this batch. I appreciate so much that this project matters to people. We are able to serve so many more families because of their help.

Angie brought all these up on Christmas Eve, and then the day after Christmas, I got a package from Liam's family. 

These were sent by the Mello family to honor their sweet nephew, Liam. 

 Each book has a nameplate with his name.

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.