It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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I had the delight of opening my front door one day this week and finding a bag of books that someone had left for the Little Free Library that I am a steward for. Thank you, Ashton! I had fun reading some of these before putting them in the LFL. Later in the week I met Ashton as he browsed for some books. We also finished planting the garden before the next round of rain sets in. The best part of the week–eating fresh strawberries as soon as I pick them from the back yard. Yum!

I finished…

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Because of Winn Dixie: The Official Movie Scrapbook by Jean K. Kwon, photographs by Suzanne Tenner – You should have seen how fast my daughter grabbed this one when she saw it. We both love Kate Kicamillo’s book and revisit the story any way we can.

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If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond – I loved reading this series of books to my daughter. Who knew what delightful messes a pig can drag you into if you innocently give her a pancake for breakfast. The photo shoot is  my favorite–or is the tree house or the wheelbarrow full of mail?

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The Foot Book by Dr. Suess – This was the first book I pulled from the bag to read. I have always loved Dr. Suess His rhymes are deceptively simple but absolutely brilliant. Read it again!

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Trucks A to Z by Christopher Hernandez – I never knew that there were trucks for every letter in the alphabet (sometimes more than one truck). I wish I had had this when my nephews were younger. They loved trucks of all kinds and would have loved this text.

I’m currently reading…

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A Praying LIfe by Paul E. Miller – I still have a lot to think about this week. I like how Miller is open about the struggles he has with his own faith and prayers, especially with his family stories. I am opening my eyes and heart to see the stories that God is weaving in my own life. I agree that God can use suffering in our lives to teach us and help us grow in our faith, but I’m not sure God causes suffering just to teach us a lesson. I’m not even sure that is what Miller says, but these latest chapters seem to lean that way.

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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan – It’s always a good sign when my listener begs for one more chapter. Now that Willow’s life has completely fallen apart, she is slowly starting to put it back together again. The hardest part of reading this book aloud to my daughter is NOT to comment on it. I know what’s coming and want to point out all the foreshadowing, but I’m biting my tongue so she can enjoy it unfolding through the story.

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark – I’ve read quite a few more stories this week. I find that they are like chocolate–delicious to read but easy to consume too much at once.

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Dodger by Terry Pratchett – I downloaded this from Sync YA and started listening to it while I was mowing this week. I like the character of Dodger and his roommate/mentor. I also love that Charles Dickens is one of the characters–and seems to be playing quite a major role so far. Now I’m waiting to see what trouble finds Dodger next. He seems to have a knack for attracting trouble–as well as luck and wits to get out of it

Coming up…

I’m heading to western Arizona this week to facilitate a conference, so I get to decide which books to take with me. Space is limited with carry ons, so I am glad for the Kindle app on my phone on these trips. Since I’ll get to spend a few days at my brother’s house, I can raid his books while I sit by the pool!

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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It was a good reading week. I finished several books and even posted a couple of reviews. Imagine my thrill when Lois Duncan shared my review of her book on her Facebook page. Not only did I enjoy some good books this week, my husband and I finally planted our big garden. We’ve been enjoying spinach and green onions from our little raised bed at the house, but schedules and weathe had kept us from planting the rest of the seeds and plants. We still have a few more things (some more summer squash, okra and flowers to plant), but we are ready for the rest of it to grow!

I finished…

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The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter – I absolutely love this book, but I find it very hard to describe. It has such a fantasy feel to it, but it’s really not fantasy at all. Maybe some things that happen stretch believability (How many fathers do you know who make their living by painting exiled and deposed royals with strange histories?), but everything is explained in the end. The castle folly (a small-sized copy of a real castle) is amazing, and the three Hardscrabble children found a way into my heart. (Click on the title for my longer review.)

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One to the Wolves by Lois Duncan – As soon as I received the review copy sent by the author, I opened the cover and couldn’t stop reading. Lois’s account of her search for justice for her daughter is gripping and heartbreaking. Over twenty-five years have passed since her daughter Kait was shot down in the street. During that time, Lois has tracked down every lead and compiled evidence for other suspicious deaths around Alburquerque, but she still searches for answers. I hope that she will soon be able to write an ending to this true story.  (Click on the title for my longer review.)

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All Our Yesterdays by Christin Terril, narrated by Meredith Mitchell – I forgot to include this one last week, but I am still listening to it. I’m to the point of looking for more mowing to do (too bad I broke the mower) or other chores so I can listen more. The conflict between the future Em and the past Marina is building steam until the ultimate showdown at the end. I loved the ending–though for a few minutes I wasn’t sure where it was going.

I’m currently reading…

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A Praying LIfe by Paul E. Miller – I am enjoying this book, and it gives me much to think about. The chapters I read this week focused on the contrast between the cynicism of the larger world and the realistic optimism that faith and prayer can lead to. I found lots of things for me to work on in my own life.

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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan – I think my daughter must be enjoying this one since she asks me to read every night. I am throroughly enjoying revisiting Willow and her friends. Even after I read our chapter aloud, I have a hard time tearing myself away and flip to favorite scenes to reread.

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What Have You Lost edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – I haven’t read many poems this week. I guess I got out of the habit. The few I did read were quite good, so I am determined to get back in the habit of reading one every day. 

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark – This is the book that I find myself grabbing to read whenever I have a few minutes. It’s perfect to take along while waiting to pick up my daughter from school or to sneak in another story while I am waiting on someone for something.

Coming up…

Oh my, it’s time once again for SYNC YA. I  missed the first week last week, but there are still two audiobooks a week for the rest of the summer to enjoy. Glancing over the titles for the summer, I see some titles that have been on my TBR pile and others that I would love to revisit while listening. If you’re not familiar with SYNC YA, they give away two audiobooks–one contemporary young adult title and one classic title that relate thematically–each week of the summer. All you need is the free Overdrive app. I’ve enjoyed many books for the past few summers. The downloads are available for just one week, but they remain on your computer for as long as it takes to get to them.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

One to the Wolves by Lois Duncan

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When I taught middle school, Lois Duncan’s suspense books were ones I went to frequently to hook those students who hadn’t yet met a book they liked. More times than not those students would become readers after being drawn in by relatable teenage characters facing danger and intrigue. Duncan packed in more drama and suspense to keep my students turning pages.

Last week Duncan sent me a review copy of her latest book, One to the Wolves: A Desperate Mother on the Trail of a Killer (Planet Ann Rule, LLC, 2015). This nonfiction book is every bit as suspenseful as her earlier novels, but even more horrifying in that every word is true.

In July 1989, Duncan’s daughter Kaitlyn Arquette was shot and killed on a street in Albuquerque. The police classified it as a random drive-by shooting and arrested a few suspects they later let go for lack of evidence. They considered the case finished even if unresolved, but for Duncan, too many pieces did not fit together.

She began a decades long search for the truth of what happened to her daughter. She first wrote Who Killed My Daughter? in hopes that presenting the evidence she had discovered would encourage people to come forward with new information that might answer their questions and bring Kait’s killer’s to justice.

One to the Wolves tells the story of what came during the following years. People did come forward–with information about Kait’s life and death as well with information about many more suspicious deaths in and around Albuquerque. The deeper Duncan looked, the more she realized that many of the deaths were connected by people and places and events. The Real Crimes website gave families a place to share their information and get word out.

With the work of private investigators, Duncan uncovered evidence in Kait’s case that pointed toward organized crime involved in insurance fraud and drug imports. Many people hinted at involvement of VIPs in a drug ring, but no one was willing to name names. At every turn, law enforcement in Albuquerque blocked progress on the case. In more recent years, What do you do when you learn that some of the people who are supposed to serve and protect you are the ones who are thwarting justice.

Duncan and her family used every means possible to learn what really happened to Kait that night. They hired private investigators and interviewed witnesses. They consulted psychics, including Betty Muench and Robert Petro. Skeptical at first, Duncan has seen many of the details from their readings confirmed by other sources. She also shares dreams she had that felt like more than just a dream–a message from Kait after her death.

Once I started reading, I had a hard time putting down the book. I can’t imagine the pain and horror of losing and child to such violence and then learning that law enforcement was not on your side. I hope that Duncan and the other families will soon find answers and justice for their children.

The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter

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I was captivated by The Kneebone Boy (Scholastic 2010) from the very first page–actually from the back cover, which gives an excerpt that introduces the narrator:  “I was the one voted to tell you ths story because I read the most novels, so I know how a story should be told. Plus, I’m very observant and have a nice way of putting things, that’s what my teacher, Mr. Dupuis, told me. I can’t tell you which Hardscrabble I am–Otto, Lucia, or Max–because I’ve sworn on pain of torture not to. They said it’s because the story belongs to all three of us, and I suppose they’re right, but it seems unfair since I’m doing all the work. No one can stop you from guessing, though.”

Ellen Potter does a delightful job channeling this particular Hardscrabble to tell the story of three ordinary (almost) children who have a most extraordinary adventure.  It all begins when their father leaves unexpectedly to draw anothe portrait of a royal in exile. Instead of sending the children to stay with thei neighbor Mrs. Carnival, he sends them to London to stay with their cousin Angela in London. Unfortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it), Angela is not at home, and the children decide to explore London on their own. They then follow a few clues to meet their great aunt Haddie Piggit (who is living in a castle folly) and just maybe discover the secret of their missing mother.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what a castle folly is. Max–who is sometimes too smart for his own good–will fill you in and teach you many more interesting tidbits as well. Lucia’s determination to have an adventure leads them down many unexpected pathes. Otto–even though he hasn’t spoken in years except with his hands–has a knack for discovering hidden things. Together, the Hardscrabble children explore the castle folly, meet the mysterious Kneebone Boy, and outsmart several adults.

I loved the narrator. (Yes, I figured out pretty quickly which Hardscrabble wrote the story down, but I’m not telling. You’ll have to read it for yourself. In addition to telling the story with just the right amount of detail to give a decidedly otherworldly feel to the tale, the narrator gives insightful commentary on the process of the story itself, even having the nerve to disagree with Mr. Dupuis about the best way to tell a story.

This is a book I want to put in people’s hands to read, but I find it difficult to describe. In some ways it is an ordinary story about ordinary children, but it feels most extraordinary. It feels like a fantasy adventure even though everything is explained in the most believable and realistic manner. Most of all, it makes me think about what makes a hero. These three children go on a hero’s journey. Even though they end up righht where they started and nothiing of their outward circumstances has changed, they are different. That makes all the difference in the world.

Have you read The Kneebone Boy? What did you think?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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I fnished…

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Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter – Really, I don’t want to turn to a life of crime, but I love reading about Katerina Bishop and the family business of thievery. This time the job is personal for Kat. Her friend Hale is the mark of an excellent con. Not only might she not be able to outcon the con, she might also lose Hale. I thought I knew what was coming through the story, but I was even more surprised than Hale at the end. Check out my full review here.

I’m currently reading…

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What Have You Lost edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – The poems I’m reading this week circle around childhoods lost.

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The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter – Three ordinary children (well, almost ordinary) have the most extraordinary adventure and discover the most surprising secrets. My favorite part is the narrator, who is at times serious and at times snarky. Technically, the narrator (one of the children) remains unnamed, but it didn’t take me too long to figure out which one tells the story. I’m almost finished with this one and can’t wait to see if I’m right about how things turn out.

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A Praying LIfe by Paul E. Miller – I didn’t read much on this one this week (too caught up in the adventures of the children above from Little Tonks. I am finding much to think about as I read, so I’m not too disappointed to take it slowly. After finishing the section on praying like a little child, I’m just starting to read about learning to trust (otherwise known as overcoming cynicism).

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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan – As my daughter has been battlng sickness this year, she has asked me to read her bedtime stories again. Rather that recycling throuh the few picture books we saved, I’m reading her some of my favorites that I think she will like.  hope she enjoys this one as much as I am enjoying reading it to her. I love Willow and the people she surrounds herself with

Coming up…

I received two books at the end of the week that I plan on reading (or at least starting) in addition to the ones I’m in the middle of.

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark – My daughter gave me this book for Mother’s Day along with some chocolate. She does know me well.

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One to the Wolves: A Desperate Mother on the Trail of a Killer by Lois Duncan – On her Facebook page Lois Duncan asked if anyone print reviewers or bloggers would be willing to review her book. She graciously sent me a review copy that came in today’s mail.

What have you been reading this week?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

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Really, I don’t want to embark on a life of crime, but Ally Carter makes the world of high end art thieves sound tempting in the Heist Society series. After all, Kat Bishop only “resteals” things, and her entire extended “family” works under their own unique honor system where family comes first.

In the third book, Perfect Scoundrels, that loyalty to family is being put to the test. W.W. Hale the Fifth has been named the sole heir to Hale Industries, but something is fishy. Marcus, Hale’s loyal butler, hires Kat to get to the bottom of things. In uncovering the truth, Kat may lose the boy she loves. Not to mention the stakes go up when the job is this personal. Can Kat and her crew out-con a well-thought-out con that marks one of their own?

I enjoyed the twists and turns (and even suspected some culprits early) as the con unwound, but I was surprised at the sudden revelations at the end. Don’t worry, I won’t give them away, but let me assure I was nearly as surprised as Hale was. Kat definitely plays both sides of this well-thought out con.

I do hope Ally Carter writes more of Kat and Hale and the rest of the crew so I can get my fix of cons and vicariously break into the most well-secured buildings in the world.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

imageIt’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

 

 

I did it! I wrote a poem for every day in April to take part in Mary Lee’s PO-EMotion challenge over at A Year of Reading. Some days I struggled–and some poems were better than others–but I loved the community that developed with the poets who took part and the opportunity to stretch my own poetry muscles. I linked the last few poems for the month of April below. Now I’m ready to catch up on some book reviews on the blog. I’ve read some good books that I want to share! We also enjoyed sending my daughter to prom this past weekend. She looked beautiful, but I can’t believe my little girl is growing up so fast.

I finished…

The Niching Nest by Tad Hargrave – I love the concept of marketing for hippies–two ideas that seem to be at odds, but just maybe they can come together. I did like the approach to seeing your niche as your role in the community as opposed to just a way to market goods or services. It is a much more holistic way of looking at life and work together–neither one is enough by itself, but it can be hard to keep them in balance.

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Double Crossed: A Spies and Thieves Novel by Ally Carter – What happens when a top teenage spy runs into a master art thief at a society ball? If Ally Carter is in charge of writing the story, it’s sure to be filled with surprises and adventure. This novella provides a peek into the collision between two worlds–that of spies from the Gallagher Girls series and the thieves of Heist Society.

I’m currently reading…

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What Have You Lost – edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – I loved reading a poem a day so much through April that I’m continuing the tradition. Some of the poems of loss that I read this week spoke to events happening currently. I can’t even begin to imagine the loss experienced by those families in Nepal and in Baltimore who had their lives upended in an instant. It makes the losses of my life pale in comparision.

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A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller – This book is giving me so much to think about. On the one hand, I want to tear through it to read what else Miller has to say, but I also want to slow down and think about the ideas. I have a feeling that this is a book I may turn back to more than once.

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Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter – This was the book I meant to download when I read Double Crossed. I don’t really want to start a career as an art thief–and I generally find thievery immoral–but I can’t help but love Kat Bishop and her “family” business. This time the job is personal since the mark is one of her own–and Kat is playing both sides of a well-thought out con. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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All Our Yesterdays by Christin Terril, narrated by Meredith Mitchell – Mowing season is here again, so I’ve loaded another audio book to listen to. I downloaded this one last summer from Sync YA, and had forgetten everything I might have heard about it. It can be a little disconcerting to listen to a new book with no clue as to what’s coming, but it does make me pay attention a little more. So far I am enjoying the time travel. Just like the characters, I am having to piece together the clues to figure out what is going on.

Coming up…

I’m not sure what I will pick up once I finish the books I’m in. I like the surprise of letting books find me. I have plenty stacked around waiting for me to pick them up.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

April books read

I had quite a bit of variety in my ten books from April. It’s hard to choose a favorite. The Secret Garden has been a favorite for a long time, but I was just as blown away by Seabisucit and Wild Things and Marching Toward the Thunder. I could hardly go wrong this month.

33)  Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Richard H. Minear (Introduction by Art Spiegelman)

34) Seabiscuit by Lauren Hillenbrand – an amazing story of an amazing horse and an amazing story of those who worked with Seabiscuit

35) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – the coming of spring invited me to enjoy this classic one more time

36) Making Sense of the Bible by Adam Hamilton – thoughtful and insightful look at understanding the Bible

37)  By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York TImes Book Review edited by Pamela Paul – I loved this glimpse into the reading lives of a variety of writers

38) Audience Revolution by Danny Iny – something to think about.

39) Double Crossed: A Spies and Thieves Novel by Ally Carter – What happens when a top teenage spy runs into a master art thief at a society ball?

40) March Towards the Thunder by Joseph Bruchac – an excellent historical fiction set in the Civil War

41) The Niching Nest by Tad Hargrave – more business reading

42) Wild Things: Acts of Mishief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson and Peter Sieruta – a ravishing romp through children’s lit.

What have you read this month? What books are you looking forward to?

In an Instant

Earthquakes crumble
cities and villages
halfway round the world,
crushing people
under the rubble
of collapsed temples
and upended lives
in an instant,
while closer to home
fear and anger simmer underground
until another unexplicable act of violence
boils over into city streets,
setting fire to lives and communities
in an instant.
I want to help,
but any relief
I have to offer
seems puny
in the face
of so many lives
challenged in an instant.

PO-EMotions graphicAfter watching and reading the April poetry challenge by Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Readingfor the past several years, I decided to write a poem a day this month. Mary Lee is hosting PO-EMotion, with a different emotion for each day of the month. Today’s focus is RELIEF. For even more poetry fun throughout April, check out the roundup of poetry celebrations and projects at Jama’s Alphabet Soup

Piano Pride

Fingers plink at ivory keys,
looking for the ones
that match the notes
dancing across the clefs.
Again and again
fingers stumble and trip
until at last
melody and chords
pour out in song.

PO-EMotions graphicAfter watching and reading the April poetry challenge by Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Readingfor the past several years, I decided to write a poem a day this month. Mary Lee is hosting PO-EMotion, with a different emotion for each day of the month. Today’s focus is PRIDE. For even more poetry fun throughout April, check out the roundup of poetry celebrations and projects at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

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