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L(star) books are the best books

January 23rd, 2023
Bok! Peruvian lilies from my yard (photo by moi) Once upon a time, I was lucky enough to land at a K-8 school where a bunch of amazing students, teachers, parents and staff attended, worked, played and learned. That is how I met my friend L*, a person who was great, funny, smart, talented and steady Eddie. She passed away last year and thanks to the generosity of her kids, I inherited a load of her books. Some of the collection is going to the bookstore, for resale; some titles are going to Little Free Libraries; some will go to my students, and friends; some will stay with me. How blessed are all of us, to have books around? #blessed #loved #friends. Here are some lessons L* left behind for not just her students, but her family, neighbors, friends… and me.
  1. Breathe. Inhale/exhale, inhala, exhala.
  2. You probably can speak more Spanish than you think you can; give it a try.
  3. Throw a lot of love around and see what happens.
  4. Learn when to keep a secret and learn when to tell someone off. Learn when to hug tightly and learn when to give someone space.
  5. Drink tea, stay hydrated, try to eat healthy foods.
  6. Start each day with a poem.
  7. Turn on the sprinklers for the birds and the critters, especially when the air is smoky and it’s hard to breathe
  8. Send letters and be open to receiving letters.
  9. Call when you can.
  10. Teach people to read.
  11. Give away books.
  12. Pay attention to the bugs and flowers.
  13. Garden and work in your yard.
  14. Take your dog(s) for a walk and visit the neighbors.
  15. Let your kids know how much you love them.
  16. Smile.
She. Was. Amazing. I’m a better person, because of her. I mean that. I’m not including links, but I’ll include a list of some of the books she left me. They’re all pretty cool. Be well, leave a comment if you’d like, and don’t forget to read and write. And write and read, and then to read and write some more. XO WM Dick King Smith’s “Alphabeasts,” illustrated by Quentin Blake Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” “Arctic Memories,” by Normee Ekoomiak “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Joseph Schindelman; “The Roald Dahl Treasury”; and “D is for Dahl: A Gloriumptious A-Z Guide to the World of Roald Dahl,” with illustrations by Quentin Blake “Desert Dog,”  by Tony Johnston, with paintings by Robert Weatherford “Fables,” by Arnold Lobel “Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices,” by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Eric Beddows (This is one of my favorite books in the universe, I’m happy to say. And my friend L* introduced it to me. We loved to celebrate National Poetry Month every April, and we liked “Poem in Your Pocket” day. You know it? You keep a poem folded up in your pocket, and all day long you read your poem to people you run into, and they, in turn, read their poems to you! Perfecto! My poem is one that my sister and I like. Our great-aunts taught it to us many, many, many years ago. It goes like this… ready? “I love you little/I love you big/I love you like/a little pig.” — anon.) “Little House in the Big Woods,” “On the Banks of Plum Creek,” “By the Shores of Silver Lake” and all the “Little House” titles, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, pictures by Garth Williams “The Magic Hummingbird: A Hopi Folktale,” collected & translated by Ekkehart Malotki, narrated by Michael Lomatuway’ma, and illustrated by Michael Lacapa Caldecott Medal Winner “Many Moons,” by James Thurber, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin (who also provided the drawings for “The Hundred Dresses,” by Eleanor Estes) “Pizza, Pigs and Poetry: How to Write a Poem,” “The Dragons Are Singing Tonight” (with pictures by Peter Sis) and “If Not for the Cat” (paintings by Ted Rand), by Jack Prelutsky, Children’s Poet Laureate “Salmon Forest,” by David Suzuki & Sarah Ellis, with illustrations by Sheena Lott “Thunderfeet: Alaska’s Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Critters,” by Shelley Gill, illustrations by Shannon Cartwright “Where the Buffaloes Begin,” by Olaf Baker, with drawings by Stephen Gammell Books that I found last week in my wanderings: “Across the Stream,” by Mirra Ginsburg, pictures by Nancy Tafuri “Are You My Mother?” written and illustrated by P.D. Eastman, my hero “In My Mother’s House,” by Ann Nolan Clark, illustrated by Velino Herrera “The Little House,” by Virginia Lee Burton “Madeline’s Rescue,” by Ludwig Bemelmans “Love Songs of the Little Bear,” by author Margaret Wise Brown and illustrator Susan Jeffers “Ninja Red Riding Hood,” by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat “Olivia and the Missing Toy” and “Olivia Forms a Band,” written and illustrated by Ian Falconer Hans Christian Andersen’s “Thumbelina,” retold by Amy Ehrlich, with pictures by Susan Jeffers Grownup books: “Awakening Creativity: Dandelion School Blossoms,” by Lily Yeh “The Book of Delights,” essays by Ross Gay “Emperor of the Air,” stories by Ethan Canin “Messages on Stone: Selections of Native Western Rock Art,” by William Michael Stokes and William Lee Stokes “Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs,” by Caroline Knapp “Rescuing Claire,” by Thomas Johnson “Ten Poems to Change Your Life,” by Roger Housden “To the Nines: A Stephanie Plum Novel,” by Janet Evanovich “Teacher Therapy,” by Karen Katafiasz, illustrated by R.W. Alley

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