Academic Nook Crazy about Cybils Illustrator Sketchpad Reading Themes

A Warm Welcome to our Lovely Guests this January/February


We have just recently launched our Crazy about Cybils bimonthly theme and we are very excited to share with you two of our very special guests this January and February.

Academic Nook


We are very privileged to feature the amazing Linda Baie from Teacher Dance for our Academic Nook. Linda runs a wonderful, insightful, vibrant blog that highlights her experiences as a long-time educator of gifted children. Linda is also one of the Second-Round Judges for the Poetry Category in Cybils – I am excited to read her thoughts and reflections about the entire process of judging and selecting lovely books for children. Here is her photo and bio:


I taught Advanced School students (grades 6,7,8) as a Core teacher for 20 years at The Logan School for Creative Learning in Denver, Colorado.  The school is a K-8 independent school for gifted students where each student is supported in his or her own individual curriculum.  Students are taken on many trips in pursuit of real-life learning in their chosen areas by another group of teachers in the building and still another group help the Core teachers plan overnight trips in studying a class unit.  I’ve traveled to places such as Mexico, Costa Rica, New York City, and the Oregon coast with students, sailed with them on a two-masted schooner and a tall ship, and hiked the Grand Canyon all in pursuit of experiences that will enhance learning.  In all these years, poetry has been an important part of what I’ve offered to students as a way to communicate learning and personal feelings, as well as to explore language.  Along with writing for individual topics, a poetry group started yearly by February, met twice weekly, with the goal to share a poem by someone else and to write our own to share for response.  The group was a choice, while those who didn’t choose poetry wrote in other genres.  Often the group was so large that I had to break it into several groups and alternate among the groups, allowing students to take turns facilitating.  I still hear from students who thank me for starting their love of poetry.

                Today, I am in my third year as a literacy coach for the school, working with all teachers to help find different ways to teach the language arts, including poetry.  For example, soon I will begin some Poetry Friday lessons with a primary class, teaching with their teacher.  It’s been a pleasure learning and growing with all ages at the school.

             I am married, have two married children and three grandchildren, whose being is a part of my life that I never knew could hold such joy!  I have begun a project where I write poems about the different ages of both my children and grandchildren, in essence, saying goodbye at each step of the journey of growing up.

            I began blogging in March, 2011, taking the challenge from the Two Writing Teachers blog of a post a day all that month, and thus began my journey of meeting many wonderful writers from all over the world, like Myra, Fats and Iphigene here at Gathering Books.  During that time, I began linking with the Poetry Friday bloggers, and found my love of poetry delightfully shared by so many.  Recently I was given the chance to apply to be a Cybils judge and was selected to be part of the Second Round Poetry judges.   I have been reading as many of the nominees as I can, anticipating the time when my group is given the finalists to read, re-read, and discuss the merits of each published work.  I am both excited and nervous because I am new to this experience.  The blogging has been good for me as a teacher and as a writer.  I would encourage anyone who likes to write, keeps a journal, to reach out to the blogging communities and take a leap.  Writing fills me, and in particular, poetry takes me places I would not go otherwise, in both content and in feelings.

And now let us welcome the New Year full of things that have never been. Rainer Maria Rilke

Illustrator’s Sketchpad


It is very seldom that we get to feature illustrators in Behind the Books, so it is with a measure of excitement that I welcome Madonna Davidoff, a Filipino-American who is currently based in New York. She also runs a blog, click here to be taken to her official site. Here is Madonna’s photo and bio.

Madonna Photo copy

Maria Madonna Davidoff is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer who uses both traditional and digital methods to create her whimsical and lively children’s illustrations.She has just illustrated Barack the Anointed (Blackbook Plus/Seaburn Publishing) released last December 2010 as well as Momsie’s Book released last Jan 2011. Currently, she is working on her graphic memoir entitled “Little Mado, A schoolgirl Adventure”.

Madonna has also designed and illustrated several book covers for Markus Wiener Publishers and Africa Word Press. Her works have also been published by The Village Voice , The New York Times, The Washington Post , Philippine Inquirer and Asian Lifestyle Magazine.
She is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators), where her work was one the 10 finalists in theSCBWI 2003 Artist Showcase Award. Madonna is also a member and officer of CBIG (Childrens Book Illustrators Group) where she designs the annual CBIG members promo postcard.
She graduated with a Fine Arts degree at the University of the Philippines and also studied illustration at School of Visual Arts in New York City as well as Batik Painting in Bali, Indonesia
Based in New Jersey, she has also lived in Switzerland, Singapore and Manila.

Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and in New York City has been included at The Museum of Natural History’s Amauan Exhibit, The Orensanz Art Foundation Center’s Forbidden Visions and The America Society & Council of the Americas Prints of Maria Madonna Davidoff.  Internationally her exhibits are extensive and include Switzerland’s Musee d’art et d’historie de Fribourg, France’s Visconti Gallery in Paris, Canada’s York Quay Center in Toronto, Japan’s Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, India’s New Delhi Fine Arts & Crafts Gallery, the Philippines GSIS Museum and Singapore Philippine Embassy.

Click here to be taken to her website and click here to be taken to her blog.

What an exciting first two months for GatheringBooks! How about you, dear friends, what is going on in your site in the coming months?

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

2 comments on “A Warm Welcome to our Lovely Guests this January/February

  1. Thank you Myra. I am looking forward to being with you this month, & reading about Maria also.


  2. Pingback: Monday Reading: Of Foxes and Wolves |

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