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.

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.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison was written in 2019, and is one more of the books I purchased in my quest to add more books by authors and illustrators of color to my collection.  I'd heard many good things about this book, and I'm so glad I got it because it's darling. 

This picture book is the story of a little girl named Zuri, and her hair has a mind of its own. "It kinks, coils, and curls every which way." Her hair is shown in all its curly glory with the fantastic art of Vashti Harrison. 

Her hair is shown in braid, in superhero puffs. Her hair goes from large to small when it is rained on. 

Zuri has a special day and wants her hair to look really good, but her dad is still sleeping after a long day of taking care of her and working, so she attempts to look up how to do her hair on the internet using an iPad. Her dad wakes and comes to help her, but the styles he makes aren't quite right, and Zuri is getting sad. 

Dad works harder to help Zuri have the style she wants that day. 

The art in this book is wonderful and it's a great story for any child.

I remember when I was little and could not understand why my mom who was a beautician couldn't make my super straight hair form the beautiful woven ponytails that a classmate with hair like Zuri's had. This book can help all girls appreciate the hair they have. I also loved how much Zuri was loved by her father and mother, and Zuri's gap tooth smile was just the right touch for a girl her age. 


Once again, we received more books for our NICU babies. Today we give thanks to:

Lori Cash,

a friend of the NICU,

Angie Moore, 

and another friend of our NICU.

I appreciate every donation we receive. You have made continuing our project during the pandemic possible. 

Read to a child 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 12, 2021

Eleven by Tom Rogers

 Eleven by Tom Rogers was published in 2014 and is the story of Alex Davis, a New Yorker, who turns eleven on September 11, 2001. 

The cover of this book sets the tone of the story with the blue and the silhouette of the twin towers. Alex longs for a dog and hopes his parents will get him a dog on his birthday. He finds a stray dog he longs to keep on his way to school, and this dog takes him and his little sister on an adventure during the very scary day of 9-11. 

The storytelling in this book is good. Rogers captures the fear, horror, and hope of that day. I liked how he wove Alex's and Mac's stories together. I liked Alex's sense of responsibility to his father, the stray dog, his sister, and how he tried to do the right things even though it was hard. 

Quote I liked:

"Better to light a candle than curse the darkness" (142). 

This is a story about people who came together to help one another on a very dark day in American history. 

We've received more book donations over the last two months for our NICU babies. Here is a shout out of thanks to:

Christy Tucker

Michelle Schwendiman

Sara Griffin

Carli Florence

A NICU Graduate

The Ellison Family

Shelley Lomax

Heidi Crezee
I'm thankful for the continued support our book project receives. 

Read to a child 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, January 13, 2021

Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt

 Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt is a novel told in verse and was published in 2014. 

Kevin, the main character, is the youngest in his family - an afterthought - born after four older brothers with names all starting with a P. Kevin is a poet and a bully, but the tables get turned on him when one of his victims finds his poetry notebook. 

I like the relationships in this book. The librarian is completely amazing - as most librarians are. I think it's a librarian thing. The relationships with his older brothers are realistic. They tease, fight, and love one another. 

I like novels written in verse because they are quick reads with a lot said in not many words. 



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.

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


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy and Ekua Holmes

Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy and Ekua Holmes was published in 2020. This book was sent to me by the instructor of an inclusion class I'm taking, and I'll use this beautiful book in my classroom. 

The story is written as poetry, and the author, Angela Joy, included resources and connections to notable and newsworthy events in history that go along with this book. This means that there are many segues to expand a child's knowledge of our history and world. She also includes poems and a timeline of Black Ethnonyms in America, so this book can grow with your child. It could be read to a very small child, but it can also be used with teens. 

The story begins: "Red is a rainbow color. Green sits next to blue. Yellow, orange, violet, indigo, they are rainbow colors, too, but my color is black . . . and there's no black in rainbows."

The first page that has a resource connected to it reads: "Black is a rhythm. Black is the blues. Black is side-walking in spit-shined shoes." When you turn to the back of the book, Angela Joy explains "Side-walking in spit-shined shoes" and the connection to the Montgomery bus boycott. 

I appreciate how versatile this book is and can image it being a favorite of many children as they discover and then rediscover it again as they grow and see that it offers more than they realized.  

Ekua Holmes is the artist behind the bold, vivid, and beautiful illustrations that add to the storybook. 


We received a few more donations to our book project last week. 

A graduate of our NICU sent these books. 

Shelley Lomax sent these cute board books. 

Angela Jensen sent us these fun winter books. 

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, January 2, 2021

2020 NICU Book Project Donation Total

2020 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.

I worried that our project wouldn't be able to reach all the babies in our NICU this year because of the pandemic. I rely heavily on being about to go shop in person for books at a discount. I generally purchase several hundred books a year for this project and there was no way I could safely shop in person, but I shouldn't have worried because when Angie let the word get out that we were nearly out of books, many, many donors stepped up and sent books. We were the recipients of a few book drives and at least one large anonymous donor. 

We have never had as many donors as we have had this year. We had at least 100 donors, but because of book drives and anonymous donors, I have no idea exactly how many people participated in our project this year. If you helped bring books to our NICU babies, I thank you for keeping our project afloat in this weirdest of all years. 

We collected 1,788 books this year, most of them were new because of the pandemic. Those that were not new, were sanitized and quarantined to make sure they were safe before being given to families. 

We had a few last minute donations this year, which were included in our 2020 totals. I always photograph and mention those donations on my blog, so here these donations. 

These were donated by Sara Robinson. Board books are always appreciated. I like each baby to get at least one board book in their packet.  

Megan Smith sent these four books. Spanish books are greatly appreciated as they aren't always easy to find.

Ginger Nielsen sent this selection of cute books. There are touch and feel, board books, Spanish books, and paperbacks in this group. 

An anonymous donor sent 63 new board books, pop-up books, and Spanish books in this selection. 

McKenna Vance sent this selection of hardbacks. I try to put at least one hardback in each packet and for some reason, we don't get a lot of them donated, so they are appreciated. 


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.

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.