Monday, April 30, 2007

A Poem a Day #30

Well…here we are on the 30th day of April—the final day of National Poetry Month—my last day to post A Poem a Day! I thought I’d dedicate my poem today to my poet friend Janet Wong. It seemed most appropriate to dedicate a list poem to her. Last September, Janet wrote to tell me that another poet was compiling an anthology of list poems and suggested I submit some of my poetry for consideration. And just the other day she made mention of list poems in a comment at one of my posts.

This poem is for you, Janet. Thanks for all your help and support!

by Elaine Magliaro

Shoes are full of feet.
Candy’s full of sweet.
A pig is full of slops.
A bunny’s full of hops.
A farm is full of cows,
Chickens, pigs, and plows.
April’s full of showers
That bring us springtime flowers.
Winter’s full of snow
And blizzard winds that blow.
A forest’s full of trees…
Leaves swishing in the breeze.
The sky is full of blue…
And all the oceans, too.
The dawn is full of light
And dark fills up the night.
Bees are full of buzz
And black and yellow fuzz.
A spider’s full of silk.
A cow? Chock full of milk.
Rain is full of drops.
It drips and plips and plops.
Dreams fill up your head
At night when you’re in bed.
“And you?” you ask of me.
I’m full of poetry.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

OUT & ABOUT: April 29, 2007

Yesterday I was out and about with Grace Lin at the Newburyport Literary Festival in Massachusetts. Grace was doing two presentations…so during her first reading and drawing session at a Montessori school, I sat in on the presentations of two other children’s illustrators: Ed Emberley and Wade Zahares. I first met Ed Emberley at a Robert’s Snow event in Newburyport a couple of years ago…and I met Wade Zahares at In Celebration of Children’s Literature at the University of Southern Maine two summers ago.

Ed was great with the young children who clustered around him as he signed books. He chatted with them, made funny noises as he drew pictures for them, and listened intently to their questions and requests.

Ed Emberley Signing Books

It was good to see some of the original sketches and illustrations for Wade’s new book, LUCKY JAKE, which got a starred review from Booklist: “This solid story is taken to a whole new level by Zahares's amazing artwork. Using pastels in deep and heavy hues, solid shapes, and unusual perspectives, he provides images that roll breathtakingly across the pages. . . . Some of the scenes show the hard work of frontier life, but they are shrouded in colors that give the effort an almost mystic edge. An intriguing mix of old-fashioned storytelling and cutting-edge art.” I purchased one of Wade’s limited edition prints of a snowman—which I’ve had my eye on for some time.
An Illustration from LUCKY JAKE
Grace & Wade
I also had the opportunity to chat with illustrator Anna Vojtech. I taught one of Anna’s sons in second grade many years ago. Anna does beautiful artwork. Check out Anna's website. Here are some of the books she has illustrated:

Finally, I sat in on Grace’s THE YEAR OF THE DOG reading at Nichols Hall. Grace read from her book and then showed children and adults alike how to draw a likeness of the dog she illustrated in her book. Who should I spot in Nichols Hall but one of my oldest and dearest friends Lynne Laffie. Lynne and I attended elementary school, high school, and college together!

Lynne & Grace


If you haven’t already read the latest issue of The Edge of the Forest, now is the time. There’s an Interview with Grace Lin by Pam Coughlan (MotherReader). Also of interest is the Cybils article, which was written by Kelly Herold of Big A, little a; Allie of Bildungsroman; and Anne Boles Levy of Book Buds.

Susan Thomsen has an announcement about the 14th Carnival of Children’s Literature that she will host at Chicken Spaghetti.

Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect explains why she blogs in her post Why I Blog.

Pam Coughlan announces the Second Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge at MotherReader.

Cloudscome hosts the Poetry Friday roundup at A Wrung Sponge.

And, finally, you may want to check out Jules and Eisha’s interview with Blue Rose Girl Meghan McCarthy at 7-Imp.

See you on Monday with my final poem for National Poetry Month. Whew! One more poem to go…I hope I make it!!!

A Poem a Day #29

Today I have a fairy tale poem for MotherReader. I did try to write her a special poem about a book that told of the travails of a china rabbit—but I just couldn’t get past the first few lines. I think we all know how much MR loved that book! Who could forget her special Tulane Readers Theatre blog?

My failed first attempt at a poem for MotherReader:

That book about a bunny
Wasn’t funny.

That tale of Ed Tulane
Gave me a pain!!!

So...sad to say: There's no rabbit poem for MotherReader--just a poem about a wolf and a clever little piggy.

by Elaine Magliaro

This Pig’s outwitted me before.
No, I won’t knock upon his door,
Won’t threaten him, won’t huff and puff.
I’m finished with that macho stuff.
WELL…down the chimney here I go.
I’ll get that little pig. Ho, ho!
Can’t wait to taste his tender meat,
His juicy snout, his porky feet.
I’ll serve him up with grated cheese,
Potatoes, parsley, parsnips, peas.
Yeh! That’s my kind of swiney grub.
I guess I’m in hot water now.
Goodbye, cruel world.
I’m piggy chow!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Poem a Day #28

Today my poem is for Robin Brande--who most definitely has a terrific blog with some very interesting posts. One of my favorite “Brande’s” is Sometimes someone has to call you on your bull. Oh, yeh!

by Elaine Magliaro

Days crackle with sunlight.
Tree buds burst tight jackets,
Stretch awake.
Jaunty daffodils announce
The return of spring.
Birds string themselves
Like beads along branches
Windows yawn open
And houses breathe deep
The warm green air.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Poem a Day #27

My poem Yellow Days got me to thinking about the “golden” days of summer. I must admit that summer isn’t my favorite season. I hate when our weather here gets hot and sticky. It’s hard for me to concentrate on anything but the HEAT and HUMIDITY!

But children and teachers love summer because it means school vacation and lots of freedom to spend their days as they please. So today my poem is for all of my former students and all of the outstanding teaching colleagues, librarians, other staff, and parents that I worked with over the years (1968-2004) at the Bell School.

by Elaine Magliaro

The sun beats down.
It sears.
It scorches.
Sweating neighbors sit on porches
Sipping ice-cold lemonade
Waiting for the day to fade.
When I’m hot as steaming tea,
I stand beneath our maple tree,
Remove my sneakers, socks…and wade
Into a cool green pool of shade.

Why I Love to Write in Rhythm and Rhyme by Jean Marzollo
Poetry and Literacy by Glenna Sloan
The Power of Poetry by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Poem a Day #26

We finally had some glorious days of fair and really springy weather here in Massachusetts. A few fine days interspersed amid weeks of cool, cloudy, misty, rainy weather are times to treasure...are better than a bag of gold--or even a box of bittersweet chocolates! With the sun shining down on me Monday as I sat out on my back deck for the first time this year, I felt enveloped in the warm yellow rays of the sun. Yellow, yellow, yellow days had arrived at last! It was mahvelous—as a true Bostonian might say. Ah, if only that spell of lovely weather had lingered!

Here is a poem for Grace Lin…a friend who is like a ray of sunshine. To Grace…who can make a cloudy day seem bright!

by Elaine Magliaro

Shower in the April sun.
Shower in the light,
Streaming down on yellow days.
Stand out in the pouring rays.

Like butter on a toasty bun,
Let the sunlight melt and run
In golden rivers on your skin.
Feel it glowing deep within.
Feel the gentle touch of spring.
Feel the warmth that April brings.

Shower in the pouring rays
Streaming down on yellow days.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? #1

The PAS North Shore Council of IRA will hold its 2007 spring dinner meeting on May 23rd at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The yacht club has one of the most glorious views of any place in the United States! I am getting excited because our featured speaker is one of my favorite children’s poets. I met this award-winning author at In Celebration of Children’s Literature at the University of Southern Maine in 2005. This writer is a recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. She is also a winner of a National Book Award. Her first collection of poems was published fifty years ago! Her energy and exuberance belie her age.

Can you guess who’s coming to our council dinner?

The first person to name our featured speaker and to also give the title of her first published book is invited be my guest at the Corinthian Yacht Club on May 23rd!

NOTE: Individuals who are members of the PAS North Shore Council or who are on our council mailing list are disqualified because they already know the name of our guest speaker.

Spring Dinner Meeting of the PAS North Shore Council
Date: May 23, 2007
Time: Five O’clock
Place: Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, Massachusetts
Dinner fee for non-members: $52
Dinner choices: Chicken Florentine or Seafood Stuffed Sole with Newburg Sauce
Guest speaker: Can you guess?
Deadline for registration is May 11th. For further information, email me.

A Poem a Day #25

My haiku today is for Bruce at Wordswimmer. Bruce served on the Cybils poetry-nominating panel with me. He always had thoughtful and perceptive comments to add to our group’s discussions about the poetry books we were evaluating. Bruce writes a lot about the writing process at his blog.

by Elaine Magliaro

Beetle on a rose
in shining armor…ready
to battle the thorns

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Here Is a Poem About...#1 (Part 2)

Alkelda, you asked for a poem that I would like to hear set to music.

A Great Poetry Video with Songs
First, let me suggest you check to see if a library in your area has a copy of the video/DVD/CD of ANTARCTIC ANTICS based on the fabulous book of penguin poems written by Judy Sierra. (I have a review of the video in my Singing and Swinging with Children’s Poetry post at Blue Rose Girls.) It is an absolutely delightful video in which most of the poems have been put to catchy melodies. The songs are infectious—even for adults!

Poems for Alkelda
One poem that my second grade students and I used to love to recite while snapping our fingers and “semi-singing” is Douglas Florian’s The Daddy Longlegs, which is included in his book INSECTLOPEDIA, one of my favorite collections of animal poems.

The poem begins:

O Daddy
Daddy O
How’d you get
Those legs to grow
So very long
And lean in size?

My students really enjoyed reciting that poem. In fact, one boy liked it so much that he wrote a poem modeled after it for his dad for Father’s Day. As best I can recall, his poem began like this:

O Daddy
Daddy O
You’re the best
Dad I know
Tall and thin…

Where to Find the Poem

Written & illustrated by Douglas Florian
Harcourt Brace, 1998

Written & illustrated by Douglas Florian
Harcourt, 2004

Another poem that I think would be fun to sing is David McCord’s Bananas and Cream. This is how the poem begins:

Bananas and cream,
Bananas and cream:
All we could say was
Bananas and cream.

We couldn’t say fruit,
We wouldn’t say cow,
We didn’t say sugar—
We don’t say it now.

It ends like this:

Bananas and cream,
Bananas and cream?
We yelled for bananas,
Bananas and scream!

Where to Find the Poem

Written by David McCord
Little, Brown, 1967

Collected by Jane Yolen & Andrew Fusek Peters
Candlewick, 2007

And yet another poem that I think would be fun set to music is Mary Ann Hoberman’s Hello and Good-by, which begins like this:

Hello and good-by
Hello and good-by

When I’m in a swing
Swinging low and then high,
Good-by to the ground
Hello to the sky.

Mary Ann Hoberman is a master of meter and rhyme. She writes poetry that truly appeals to young children. I think many of her poems would make fine song lyrics. In fact, Hoberman has published a number of books for which she adapted traditional poems as sing-alongs for children: BILL GROGAN'S GOAT, YANKEE DOODLE, MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB, and others. Check her website for further information about these books.

Where the Poem Can Be Found

Written by Mary Ann Hoberman
Browndeer/Harcourt Brace, 1998

Finally, the poetry anthology SONG AND DANCE includes a few poems that I think would be great to set to music: What Is Jazz? by Mary O’Neill; Birds’ Square Dance by Beverly McLoughland; and Dance by Eve Merriam.

This is how Birds’ Square Dance begins:

Swing your partner
Bluefoot booby

This is how it ends:

Flap your feathers
Curlew, crow
Pipit, tern, and

Where to Find the Poems

Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Simon & Schuster, 1997

A Poem a Day #24

Today I have a nursery rhyme parody for Liz B. at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy. Liz likes to note that she thinks I'm a poetry overachiever when she does the Poetry Friday roundup at her blog. For the record: I stand guilty as charged. I love children’s poetry...and sometimes I get carried away. That’s the way it is! Liz, love your blog. Hope you like the poem.

by Elaine Magliaro

Jack and June went to the moon,
Crash-landed in a crater.
Jack broke his nose and seven toes.
(He’s a crummy navigator!)

Jack cried in pain. June tried in vain
To soothe her injured mate.
She bound his toes and kissed his nose
And asked him for a date.

Jack and June began to swoon…
Fell mad in love and they
Returned to Earth, their place of birth…
And wed the very next day.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Poem a Day #23

My poem on this 23rd day of April in the year 2007 is for Betsy at A Fuse #8 Production. Betsy is celebrating a special date in history. Yep…29 years ago this bouncing baby book lover was born. It seemed most appropriate to dedicate a poem to her on this momentous occasion. (The “you” I’m addressing in the poem is Betsy herself.) Happy Birthday, Betsy!!!

by Elaine Magliaro

Crinkle, crinkle, my old face…
It’s got wrinkles every place.
It’s got crow’s-feet; it’s got creases.
The aging process never ceases.

Saggy, baggy, flaccid skin...
I’ve got a droopy double chin.
I need a facelift--botox, too.
Then I’ll look as young as you!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Here Is a Poem About...#1

In my I Am Looking for a Poem About... post last Friday, I told blog readers that they could ask me to locate a poem on a specific topic/subject for them. Here are the poems I selected for them.

Jules, Grace, and Vivian, I hope you like the poems I found for you.

Jules, you requested my favorite poem about gratitude.

I chose the poem Prayer by the late Myra Cohn Livingston.
Here is how the poem Prayer begins:

Thank you for the sun,
the sky,
for all the things that like to fly,
the shining rain that turns grass green…

Where to Find the Poem

Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Little, Brown and Company, 1991
(The poem originally appeared in Myra Cohn Livingston’s book THE MOON AND A STAR AND OTHER POEMS.)

I think the poem you may be thinking of is The Question, which was written by Karla Kuskin. Does this sound like the poem that you’re looking for, Grace?

From The Question:

People always say to me
“What do you think you’d like to be
when you grow up?”
And I say “Why,
I think I’d like to be the sky…”

Where to Find the Poem
Written by Karla Kuskin
Harper & Row, 1980

Written by Karla Kuskin
Laura Geringer/HarperCollins, 2003

Vivian, I am not sure I have found the kind of poem you are looking for—but see if these fit the bill:

From the poem Give Yourself a Hug by Grace Nichols:

Give yourself a hug
when you feel unloved…

Give yourself a hug—
a big big hug

And keep on singing,
‘Only one in a million like me
Only one in a million-billion-thrillion-zillion
Like me.’

Where to Find the Poem

Compiled by Liz Attenborough
The Chicken House/Scholastic, 2001

Each of the next two poems is about a child celebrating himself/herself.

From I Know Someone by Michael Rosen:

I know someone who can
take a mouthful of custard and blow it
down their nose…

I know someone who can
say the alphabet backward…

I know someone who can put their hands in
their armpits and blow raspberries…

I know someone who can
slide their top lip one way
and their bottom lip the other way.
And that someone is

Selected by Mary Ann Hoberman
Little, Brown, 1994

From A Circle of Sun by Rebecca Kai Dotlich:

I’m dancing.
I’m leaping.
I’m skipping about.
I gallop.
I grin.
I giggle.
I shout…

I’m swinging.
I’m singing.
I wiggle.
I run.
I’m a piece of the sky
in a circle of sun.

Where to Find the Poem
Collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters
Candlewick, 2007

(You can read my review of the book here.)


Grace, I know you didn't request a giraffe poem--but you commented on the giraffe poem I posted the other day. You said that you had a "soft spot" in your heart for these tallest of land I found a poem entitled Giraffes for you. It was written by Mary Ann Hoberman.

From Giraffes:

I like them.
Ask me why.
Because they hold their heads so high.
Because their necks stretch to the sky…

Because they eat the tops of trees.
Because their legs have knobby knees.
Because. That’s why
I like giraffes.

Written by Mary Ann Hoberman
Browndeer/Harcourt Brace, 1998

Compiled and illustrated by Eric Carle
Philomel, 1989

A Poem a Day #22

My poem today is dedicated to Miss Erin who enjoys ranting and raving about important things like books and reading. What a great way for a young lady to spend her time!

by Elaine Magliaro

In March
a warm spring wind
blew by
coaxing showers
from the sky.
Silver raindrops
hurried down
tempting green up
from the brown.
They woke the sleeping
buds on trees
and tapped on hives
of honeybees.
They washed away
the winter snow
so all the waiting earth
could grow.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

OUT & ABOUT: April 21, 2007

The 13th Carnival of Children’s Literature has been posted at Jen Robinson’s Book Page. Jen’s done a fine job of organizing the links to a wealth of great blog articles. Thanks, Jen!

Kelly has the Poetry Friday roundup this week, ‘Cause Stephen Colbert Told Me So, at Big A, little a. (I hope you all got to see the Metaphor-Off aka Meta-Free-Phor-All with Sean Penn and former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky on The Colbert Report this week. Too, too funny!!!)

At 7-Imp, Jules and Eisha have an interview with Barbara Kerley, nonfiction author extraordinaire. There’ s another interview with my sister Blue Rose Girl Anna Alter.

At Blue Rose Girls, I suggest you check out Libby Koponen’s post Thoughts on Reviewers.

A Poem a Day #21

Today’s poem is for Kimberly at lectitans. Kimberly is a high school Latin teacher who may be interested in studying to become a librarian. She posts some excellent and thought-provoking questions for bloggers at lectitans.

by Elaine Magliaro

Giraffe is very tall—
but has a voice so small
you never hear him
bark or roar,
sneeze or snore,
screech or howl,
grunt or growl,
or ever say a word at all.

Perhaps because his head’s so high,

his sounds get lost up in the sky.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I Am Looking for a Poem About...#1

Well, I said I’d let you ask me to find poems for you—so here goes! Today and tomorrow you can ask me to look for a children’s poem for you on a specific topic/subject. I will do my best to fulfill your requests. As I stated in an earlier post, I will provide requesters with the titles of poems and titles of books in which the poems can be found. I may have more than one poem suggestion for each requester.

I will do my best to post my poetry suggestions by late Sunday evening or Monday morning.

Please be reasonable with your poem requests.

A Poem a Day #20

Today I have another mask poem. This one is for Robin at A Fondness for Reading. Robin’s a teacher, a grandma, and a lover of books. Robin’s mother is a book lover, too. She has a blog called Mom’s Book Group. Robin’s mom has led a book club for the Mount Olympus Senior Center for ten years!

by Elaine Magliaro

I’m grizzly bear. I’m fierce and fat…
And dangerous. Remember that!
My teeth are sharp as sabers.
My curvy claws can cut like saws,
And when I prowl the woods I growl
And frighten all my neighbors.

I rule this land. These woods are mine!
I ain’t NOBODY’S valentine!
Don’t think that you can be my friend…
My dinner?

The End

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Poem a Day #19

Today I have yet another nursery rhyme parody. This one is for Camille at Book Moot. You may ask: “Who is the lady of this fine kidlit blog?” Why...she’s the blogger known best by her fab footwear—the sneakers a la pink swooshes. You can check them out here. Camille, may you have "happy feet" forever!

by Elaine Magliaro

Humpty Dumpty sat on a star.
Humpty Dumpty started to char.
All of the astronauts raced to his side…
But when they reached him
Poor Humpty was fried!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Interview with Douglas Florian

Imagine my surprise when I received an email from Douglas Florian last month thanking me for supporting his new book COMETS, STARS, THE MOON, AND MARS…and telling me he liked the Pluto poem I posted at Blue Rose Girls! He may not know this, but his compliment meant a lot to me. You see…I’m a big fan of Douglas Florian’s poetry. I own all of his poetry collections—I even own two copies of some of them!!!

I wrote back to Douglas Florian and asked if he would like to be interviewed for Wild Rose Reader. Need I tell you that I was elated when he answered in the affirmative?


I used to share Douglas Florian’s poetry with my second grade students all the time—and later with students in my elementary school library. They enjoyed his poetry as much as I did. Florian is truly one of my favorite poets. His humorous, rhyming poetry is in a class by itself. I will admit that I find some of the light, humorous verse written for children today mildly amusing at best. It just doesn’t sing to me, doesn’t make me laugh, doesn’t beg to be read over and over again, doesn’t surprise with puns, clever wordplay, or pithy endings like the poetry of Douglas Florian. His poems frolic on the page hand in hand with his colorful and energetic art.


I interviewed Douglas Florian about his latest collection of space poems. You can read my review of COMETS, STARS, THE MOON, AND MARS at Blue Rose Girls. I also posted an additional article—Update: Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars…and Pluto. That’s where Douglas read my Pluto poem.


Elaine: Douglas, you are probably most well known for your collections of animal poems, including BEAST FEAST, MAMMALABILIA, and my particular favorite INSECTLOPEDIA. Your four books of seasonal poems, WINTER EYES, SUMMERSAULTS, AUTUMNBLINGS, and HANDSPRINGS have also been very popular. Can you tell us what inspired you to write a collection of poems about space?

Douglas: The book was inspired by a visit to a school on Long Island. With an hour of time to kill I left the windowless gym where I was presenting, to wander the halls. I came upon a charming exhibit of art about the planets done by what looked to be first graders. It was so charming and fresh that I decided to do a book about space.

Elaine: Once you got the inspiration to write a book of space poems, how did you approach the project? Did you start with research, with your poems, or with your paintings?

Douglas: Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars began with much research. I visited the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History. I took out many space books from the library and purchased several source volumes including The Compact NASA Atlas of the Solar System and The National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky. I also looked at several web sites online. When I found contradictory information online I usually turned to NASA's detailed authoritative site.

Elaine: Did you know much about astronomy before you began work on Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars?

Douglas: When I was young I was more interested in science fiction about space than the actual science. I enjoyed reading such authors as Isaac Asimov, the author of Foundation and Ray Bradbury, who wrote The Martian Chronicles. I even subscribed to the magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction as a pre-teen. As an adult most of my knowledge came from such popular books as Carl Sagan's Cosmos. I did study astronomy very briefly in a Queens College physics course, but found far too much math involved.

Elaine: How long did the entire process of research, writing, and painting the illustrations for the book take you?

Douglas: The poems began to emerge from the research almost immediately. That's the way my mind works. Reading a fact can instantly spark a poem, such as when a black hole is referred to as a cosmic broom ("Wish I had one in my room"). The research was ongoing until the very end of the project, with my editors challenging some of my facts along the way. Of course some poems came from wordplay, such as Saturn containing the word turn or Jupiter being Jupiterrific. After about five weeks of writing I turned to painting the illustrations, which took another three months.

Elaine: Reviewers have had high praise for the paintings you made for this book. Can you tell us about the artwork you created for your book of space poems?

Douglas: I wanted a book of space to have art that expansively fills up the pages, unlike the previous poetry books I had done about animals, where the art is surrounded by much white space. I used gouache watercolor paints because they are so brilliant, and much collage to give energy to the book. I created little asides such as a picture of a Mercury car and racing feet on the painting of the planet Mercury. I used some historical references, such as an ancient mosaic of the god Neptune, and old engravings of the Sun doubling as sunspots. I often veered away from "naturalistic" colors of celestial objects, as astronomical books often do to better convey information. So my solar system is a green living thing, always changing and evolving in our understanding of it. Rubber stamp letters were ideal for adding information in a graphic way, such as the names of moons revolving around.

Elaine: How did you come up with the idea for the die-cut holes in the pages of the book?

Douglas: I used the die-cut holes to give the reader the feeling of a space voyage in a continuum of the universe. The holes both preview and review the art and also have a telescopic feeling to them.

Elaine: I read in a Publishers Weekly online article that your editor wrote you an email after the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto to dwarf planet status last August. How far had you come in the actual publishing process when the decision was made to change your poem about Pluto?

Douglas: I had actually been following the events of the convention of the International Astronomical Union, but I was surprised that Pluto was demoted to "dwarf planet," as there had been much speculation that the astronomers were going to add planets to our solar system. I rewrote my Pluto poem within one hour of finding out the "bad" news, which, as it turns out, has been good news for me, as it is one of the funniest poems in the book. Too bad they didn't fire more planets!

Here’s a sprightly poem from COMETS, STARS, THE MOON, AMD MARS:


Jupiter’s jumbo
So wide
Side to side,
But gaseous, not dense.
With some sixteen moons
It’s plainly prolific—
So super-dupiter

And here's part of the painting that illustrates the poem The Universe.

Take my word for it...this image does not do justice to Florian's illustrations in the book. You'll want to see his space art firsthand...and you'll want to read the rest of the poems in his latest book!

The poem Jupiter and the universe image were used here with permission. Poem and art © 2007 Douglas Florian.

I want to thank Douglas Florian for being such a wonderful interviewee and for giving me permission to post a poem and an image from his excellent new collection of space poems-- COMETS, STARS, THE MOON, AND MARS.

A Poem a Day #18

Today I have another nursery rhyme parody. This one is for Jen Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page—another terrific kidlit blog. I especially enjoy Jen’s Sunday Afternoon Visits and her Children’s Literacy Roundups. Thanks, Jen, for all the support you’ve given me these past couple of months!

by Elaine Magliaro

Mary had a lotta luck
At Shoot the Wad Casino.
She worked the slots and rolled the dice
And won ten games of keno.

When Mary cashed in all her chips,
She gotta lotta dough.
Now every fella in our town
Sure wants to be her beau!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sunday Brunch with Janet Wong & Company

When Janet Wong (Out and About with Janet Wong and Grace Lin) was in Massachusetts in late March, she told me she was going to be back in our area in mid April. We made plans for her to come to my house for Sunday brunch on April 15th. Forecasts had been brewing most of last week about a terrible Nor’easter that was going to hit New England on Sunday. Janet emailed me on Saturday to say she probably wasn’t going to drive up from New Jersey because of the impending storm. Not long after that email I got another one saying: “We’re coming!”

I am so glad she did. I love Janet! She is a dynamo…and such a personable individual…and she has a wonderful sense of humor…and she writes terrific books. I got a chance to meet her charming husband—and to introduce Janet to my charming husband, my funny, lovable daughter, and one of my three lovely nieces. The only disappointment was that Grace and Robert couldn’t make it.

I know I had promised lots of “foodie” pictures—but I was so busy enjoying my wonderful company and trying to be a good hostess that I decided not to interrupt the pleasant conversation with a photo-taking session. I did manage to take snap a picture of Janet with my daughter before she left.

Janet & My Daughter Sara


I didn’t get around to taking pictures of the food before we ate--but I took a couple of snapshots of some of the leftovers. For you "foodies" out in the kidlitosphere, here's the menu:

  • potato pancakes served with creme fraiche
  • kielbasa with a pineapple and brown sugar sauce
  • shrimp and feta salad with kalamata olives, red peppers, cucumbers, purple onions, and grape tomatoes in a lemon garlic vinaigrette
  • smoked salmon and capers served with horseradish crème fraiche sauce
  • a salad of mixed greens with walnuts, dried cranberries, pears, blue cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette
  • For dessert we had fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries with cold zabaglione. I haven’t made cold zabaglione in a long time. I had forgotten how good it is—and it’s really quite easy to make.


4 extra large eggs yolks
4 tablespoons of sugar
½ cup sweet Marsala wine

1 cup heavy cream
1 or 2 teaspoons sugar

Combine the egg yolks, 4 tablespoons of sugar, and the wine in a large bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of gently boiling water. Whip with a hand held beater or whisk for 3 or 4 minutes—or until the mixture is tripled in volume, light and fluffy, and falls in a thick ribbon from the beater or whisk.

Have ready: A larger bowl with some ice and cold water in the bottom and the heavy cream and sugar, which have been whipped to stiff peaks. Cool the bowl of hot zabaglione in the bowl of ice and water. Then gently fold in the whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate. This recipe may be made up to 6 hours in advance of serving. Serve the cold zabaglione as is or spoon it over fresh berries for a light and delectable dessert.

If you try this recipe, let me know how it turns out.


Shrimp and Feta Salad

Kielbasa with Pineapple and Brown Sugar Sauce

A Poem a Day #17

Today I have an acrostic poem for Michele at Scholar’s Blog. Since Michele, who lives across the Atlantic in the mother country, is the anointed Queen of Fantasy, I thought this poem about a unicorn was most appropriate. Michele is also the author of the Scholar’s Blog Spoiler Zone, which is where she posts books reviews and hosts some interesting book discussion groups. Her personal physician is the famous Doctor Who!

by Elaine Magliaro

Unreal animal,
No one has ever seen you except
In the land of make-believe
Cavorting with maidens
Over flower-strewn fields and
Romping through woodlands in a world of
Never-ending days.

Cheerio, Michele!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Wild Rose Reader Coming Attractions

Here’s a list of some of this week’s Wild Rose Reader’s features:

An Interview with Douglas Florian!

Sunday Brunch with Janet Wong, which includes my recipe for cold zabaglione!

I Am Looking for a Poem About You can request that I look for a poem on a specific topic for you. I will do my best to find one. Because of copyright laws, I will give you the title of a book/titles of books in which the poem can be found instead of posting the entire text of the poem. I just ask that requesters be reasonable with their requests.

More original poems…I hope! I’ve posted sixteen so far this month. I need fourteen more. I’ve pleaded with my muses not to pack up and leave town and take their inspiration to poets who live in warmer climes.

A Poem a Day #16

Today I have another mask poem. This one is for Nancy at Journey Woman. Nancy has a great blog. I really wanted to participate in her Silly Words Contest—but I was too busy getting ready to launch Wild Rose Reader. Her Best Passages Contest last fall was a lot of fun. I even won a gift certificate to Starbucks! Thanks for your support, Nancy. I’ll be waiting to see what kind of blog contest you dream up next!

by Elaine Magliaro

I’m black and white.
My tail’s all fluff.
I never growl.
I don’t act tough.
I wander into yards at night.
I’m really harmless…
I don’t bite
Or snarl
Or scratch
Or kick
Or pounce.
I just dispense scents by the ounce.
That’s how I frighten foes away—
I lift my bushy tail and SPRAY!

I do not need long fangs or claws,
Bulging muscles,
Mighty jaws.
My malodorous defense,
I think,
Makes a lot of SCENTS!

So if you see me take my pose
To ward off predatory foes…
Just stand back and hold your nose!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Poem a Day #15

My mask poem today is for Gail Maki Wilson of Through the Studio Door. Gail is an artist who also has her own website. You just may want to visit Gail’s website to have a look at her fine illustrations. Gail informed me the day I launched my new blog that she was adding Wild Rose Reader to her “good blog reads.” Gail, I appreciate your support. Thanks!

by Elaine Magliaro

I’m the biggest whale
in the big blue sea.
I’m blubbery big
as a whale should be.

I’m bigger than
an elephant
three rhinos,
a giraffe.

I’m bigger than
ten walruses
twos hippos
and a half.

There’s nothing
in the world
that’s bigger than me…
except, of course,
for the big blue sea!


I sometimes visited with other classes in my school to lead poetry-writing sessions. Here are collaborative poems I wrote with two different second grade classes:

A Class Poem by Mrs. Berg’s Class

I am a penguin,
chubby in my black and white
waddling on the slippery ice,
sliding on my big belly
into the freezing cold sea.
Here I come, fish.
I’m hungry as can be!

A Group Poem by Mrs. Baker’s Class

I chew on a milkweed leaf
so yummy.
I wiggle around on a green stage.
I hang upside down
like a bat
and shed my striped skin.

Inside my green and gold chrysalis
I grow my bright orange wings.
Someday I will be
a beautiful monarch
and fly around free
in a field of flowers.

Try writing a mask poem of your own. It's fun! I especially enjoy speaking in the voices of different animals. But you can imagine yourself to be the sun, the moon, a snowflake, the rain, the wind, the ocean, a tree...anything! Who or what would you pretend to be in a mask poem that you wrote?


Illustrated by Karen Dugan
Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press

Many of the poems in this book are not just mask poems--they are riddle rhymes to boot! It would be fun to read these rhythmic, rhyming riddles aloud to children and ask them to guess whose "voice" is speaking in each poem. The voices include those of a snake, a pizza, fireworks, a trampoline, and a roller coaster. The illustrations will help children guess the answers to the riddles.

Written by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Beth Krommes
Houghton Mifflin

All of the poems in this book are riddles; many of them are also mask poems. Winner of the 2006 Cybils Award for Poetry, this book contains outstanding examples of mask poems. Some of the "voices" speaking to us in the poems are those of the dew, a grasshopper, a spittlebug, xylem and phloem, a milkweed plant, and a hawk. The illustrations in this book also provide clues for young readers to help them solve the riddles. You can read my review of BUTTERFLY EYES here.


Check out my A Poem a Day #14 post for links to some collaborative class poems I wrote with students at the Malcolm Bell School. You'll also find recommendations for children's poetry books with some great mask poems that are sure to inspire children to write their very own poems.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Poem a Day #14

Today’s mask (persona) poem is for Jone (AKA Miss Mac) at Check It Out. Jone was kind enough to to add Wild Rose Reader to her blogroll soon after I launched my solo blog. Jone served as one of the five Cybils poetry judges. There’s a profile of her at the Cybils website…so check it out! And thanks, Jone, for your kind words and support.

by Elaine Magliaro

I’m a slippery slitherer
silent and sleek
sliding and slinking
through grasses
I sneak...
weaving and winding
legless and low
I slip slyly hidden
wherever I go.
Wending and bending
by stalk, stem, and stone
like a ribbon of muscle
and skin without bone
tongue catching the scent
of a soft, furry prey.
Smells like it’s field mouse
for dinner today!


I love mask poems. My students had great success writing mask poems in the classroom. I also lead poetry-writing sessions with students when I was a school librarian. Here are links to some collaborative class mask poems written by students with me in my school library, to a lesson for a poetry writing exercise, and to a page at the Village Writer site that has a definition of a persona poem and some examples of persona poems.

Class Mask Poems 2001-2002

Class Mask Poems 2002-2003

Check out Tree Voices Writing Exercise at the terrific website of award-winning children’s poet Kristine O’Connell George.

Persona Poems at Village Writer


It is always wise to immerse children in mask/persona poems written by a variety of poets before asking them to write their own poems. Here are some books with mask poems that I used in the classroom and in the library to inspire my students.


Selected by Paul B. Janeczko
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

This nifty anthology includes poems by Karla Kuskin, Bobbi Katz, Tony Johnston, Patricia Hubbell, Lilian Moore, Marilyn Singer, Jane Yolen, Douglas Florian, Alice Schertle, April Halprin Wayland, and Kristine O’Connell George. In these poems we hear the voices of a vacuum cleaner, a washing machine, the winter wind, a whale, a cow, a mosquito, a bacterium, a blue crayon, a snowflake, and trees.

Written by Byrd Baylor
Illustrated by Peter Parnall

In Baylor's collection, we hear the voices of desert animals—including those of a jackrabbit, a rattlesnake, a spadefoot toad, a buzzard, and a coyote. This is an excellent book!

Written & illustrated by Douglas Florian
Harcourt Brace

I LOVE this book!!! Not all of the poems in this book are mask poems—but the nine that Douglas Florian wrote for this collection are really excellent examples for kids…and they’re a lot of fun to read to and recite for students. The mask poems in this book include The Dragonfly, The Inchworm, The Black Widow Spider, The Weevils, The Whirligig Beetles, and The Locusts. The other poems in this collection are terrific, too.

Both of these books have exceptional examples of mask poems. If you can locate used copies--buy them. I found both books invaluable in the classroom and library.

Written & illustrated by Karla Kuskin


Kuskin speaks in a variety of voices in the poems in this book: those of a broom, a kite, a lion, the snow, the night, a dragon, a snake, a jaguar, a strawberry, a clock, and more.

Written by Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

In this book, Singer captures the voice of a different animal for each month of the year. She also has a bullhead fish explain what her life is like during each of the four seasons.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Poem a Day #13

My haikus today were written for Cloudscome at A Wrung Sponge. Cloudscome has posted more than fifty original haiku poems at her blog. She writes her poems to accompany photographs she takes of flowers in her garden, of blossoming cherry trees, of a children’s book worn by loving hands, of a tricycle outside in the yard, of a monarch butterfly looking for nectar. Both her poems and her photographs are exceptional in their beauty.

I was inspired to write my haiku poems in response to some of Cloudscome’s lovely photographs. Cloudscome, thanks so much for the fine poetry you have brought to the world of kidlit bloggers. (Photographs used with permission of Cloudscome.)


Look! A starting line
of crocuses ready
to sprint into spring

Sun rubs resting earth
with warm yellow hands…coaxes
forth petals of gold

Celebrating spring
cherry trees don party clothes…
look pretty in pink!

On petal wings,
monarch floats in air…like a
blossom in the breeze

sunbathing in summer
staring at the sky

Check out the following website:

In the Moonlight A Worm

Quoting from the website: “This website offers teachers and students an introduction to writing haiku poems, a chance to study the history and nature of haiku poetry and an introduction to the fundamental principles of creative writing.” The website is supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England.


Written by Myra Cohn Livingston
Illustrations by Kees de Kiefte
Margaret k. McElderry

This collection of poems written by Myra Cohn Livingston, a recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, has a variety of haiku for each season of the year. The book is now out of print—but used copies can be purchased from online booksellers.

Written & illustrated by Naomi Wakan
First American Edition 1997

This is a good resource book for teachers or anyone who is interested in the haiku and its history. It includes sections on Japanese Haiku and Haiku in English.

Check out my Poetry Friday Potpourri #2 post at Blue Rose Girls. I have The Joy of Writing, a poem written by Nobel Prize winning poet, Wislawa Szymborska.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Poem a Day #12

Today’s poem is for Mary Lee and Franki at A Year of Reading. Having read some of the posts at their blog, I believe I can safely infer that these two ladies must be dy-no-mite teachers! Got to love their list of 100 Cool Teachers in Children’s Literature and their list of Books about Books and Reading.

From a longtime teacher to Mary Lee and Franki: Keep up the great work in school and at A Year of Reading!

Here's a poem of address written in the form of a FAX. I got my inspiration for writing poems about Pluto when I was working on my review of COMETS, STARS, THE MOON, AND MARS, Douglas Florian’s most recent collection of poems and paintings about space.

by Elaine Magliaro

TO: Pluto
DATE: August 24, 2006
RE: Demotion to Dwarf Status

Sorry, Pluto, you’re way too small.
You’re just an itty-bitty ball…
An insignificant cosmic dot…
A speck in the Milky Way. You’re not
Considered a planet anymore.
Here’s your pink slip; there’s the door.
You’re off the list. Goodbye! Adieu!
Don’t go making a hullabaloo.
There’s nothing…nothing…you can do.
Accept your fate.


I was inspired by Douglas Florian’s book to write the following poem, too. I posted it at Blue Rose Girls in my Update: Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars…and Pluto.

by Elaine Magliaro

Pluto, Pluto, once a planet.
Made of ice…and, maybe granite,
A distant, tiny, frigid sphere
Demoted to a "dwarf" last year.

Pluto, Pluto, once a planet.
Astronomers said: "We should can it.
It’s much too small; its orbit’s odd
It’s named after a nasty god."

Pluto, Pluto, once a planet.
The IAU? It chose to ban it
From the planetary club.
That’s a solar systemic snub!!!

(IAU stands for the International Astronomical Union.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Poem a Day #11

Today my acrostic poem is for Jules and Eisha, the dynamic duo of the 7-Imp blog. The ladies give us book reviews for people of all ages, interviews, Poetry Friday posts, and their very popular 7–Imp's 7 Kicks weekend feature. Seven Impossible Things is one fine kidlit blog.

For Jules and Eisha, I’ve chosen a poem from WHAT’S IN A WORD, a collection of acrostics I finished work on last fall. Since the ladies of 7-Imp are such good friends, I thought the following selection would be most appropriate. We all know how close chums share secrets with each other.

In soft velvet
Patter into your
Revealing deep secrets that no one
Should hear.

For years, I hadn’t been a big fan of acrostic poems. So many of the ones I’d read, written by both adults and children, seemed too prosaic. Few were lyrical in nature; few had figurative language; and few had any rhythm—which, to me, is a poetic requirement. But I changed my mind about acrostics when I read SILVER SEEDS: A BOOK OF NATURE POEMS. Written by Paul Paolilli and Dan Brewer and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, SILVER SEEDS is the best book of acrostic poems for children that I have read. This collection of fifteen poems takes readers through one day. It opens with a poem about Dawn and closes with a poem about Night. It includes other poems about a shadow, a hummingbird, a butterfly, trees, clouds, stars and the moon.

Written by Paul Paolilli & Dan Brewer
Illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher
Viking 2001

In this book, a falling leaf is a loose brown parachute, fog comes in folds and folds of spun sugar, the moon is a marvelous melon, trees tickle the sky with tiny hands, and stars are silver seeds that sprout wonder. The spare illustrations serve as a quiet backdrop for the poems and allow them to stand out on the page. Each acrostic is printed in large text and has its own two-page spread. This is an excellent feature because a teacher can show students the poems as she/he reads them aloud. In this way, children can easily grasp the concept of what an acrostic poem is as they listen to their teacher read and look at the book.


Share SILVER SEEDS with your students. If they have been immersed in lots of fine poetry with rhythm, imagery, and figurative language—they should have the tools to write acrostics that are “true” poems that will sing on the page.

Classroom Procedures

  • Ask your students to suggest some topics for a collaborative acrostics writing exercise.

  • With students, select a few of the suggested topics for your class poems.

  • Guide students through the poem writing process two or three times—jotting down their ideas on chart paper.

  • When each poem is finished, read it aloud with your students.

  • Hang the poems up in the classroom where students can see them.

  • Revisit the poems a day or two later.

  • Read the class acrostics aloud again with your students.

  • Tell students to look at their collaborative acrostics with a critical eye. Invite them to think of ways to make each poem stronger by adding comparisons, alliteration, imagery, etc.; by substituting more precise vocabulary for some “weak” words; and by working on the arrangement of words in each poem to see if they can make it “read” more rhythmically. (This exercise will help children to understand how to go about revising their own poems.)

  • Then have students write their own individual acrostic poems.

Note: Whenever my students typed the final drafts of poems they had created for a particular lesson/class unit, I photocopied them and compiled them in an anthology. Each child got his/her own copy of the anthology for which they designed a front and back cover. I laminated the covers and bound the anthologies on spiral binders. My students absolutely loved seeing their own poems collected in a book, which they got to take home and share with their parents and siblings.

Here are acrostic poems that were written by two of my second grade students the last year I taught in an elementary classroom. Both poems won prizes in the 2000 Massachusetts Science Poetry Contest.

SUNS by Billy

Solar flares blast into space,
Untamed explosions of fire, in
Neverending galaxies where
Stars are born and reborn.

SPACE by Colby

Stars, jewels of light sparkle in the night.
Pluto, cold as an icy night, as dark as pitch, freezes in space.
Asteroids, worlds of rock and metal, play ring around the sun.
Comets of ice with fiery tails glow in the darkness.
Elegant Earth, a world of sapphire blue and green, spins around the sun.

Other Recommended Children’s Books with Acrostic Poems

Stephen Schnur has written four books of seasonal acrostic poems—which also happen to be alphabet books. Leslie Evans did the artwork for all four books. The illustrations, executed in hand-colored linoleum cut blocks, are colorful and striking. The text for each poem, set inside a white box framed in black, is large and easy to read. The books were published by Clarion.

Acrostic Books by Steven Schnur

AUTUMN: An Alphabet Acrostic (1997)

SPRING: An Alphabet Acrostic (1999)

SUMMER: An Alphabet Acrostic (2001)

WINTER: An Alphabet Acrostic (2002)

Here is one sample of Schnur’s poetry from his book WINTER:

Flakes so
Light they drift
Rise like smoke before coming to
Rest in the