Thursday, May 31, 2007

One More Meme

Okay…now to respond to another meme tag. Thanks, Cloudscome!!!

Like me, many of you have already been tagged by someone for the “8 Things about Me” meme. Well, wouldn’t you know that the Happy Haikuer decided to change the rules—just a tad, mind you—so…here I am responding to another meme.

The Rules for Cloudscome’s New Meme

Her new meme is called "4 New x 2.” You have to share four things that were new to you in the past four years. That is, four things you learned or experienced or explored for the first time in the past four years: new house, new school, new hobby, new spouse, new baby, whatever. Then you have to share four things you want to try new in the next four years.

My Four Things from the Past Four Years

I am now retired after thirty-six years working as a public school educator—first as an elementary classroom teacher and later as our school librarian. I loved my work…but I think retirement rocks! Oh, the freedom!!!

I’m new to blogging AND memes. I just began writing for Blue Rose Girls in October of 2006.

I attempted writing haiku and acrostic poems—in earnest.

I bought some things on ebay: snowflakes from the Robert’s Snow auctions.

My Four Things for the Future

I’m a pack rat. I have got to throw away all the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years that is stuffed into closets, and drawers, and bins in my basement. If I don’t, my husband may leave me for June Cleaver...or maybe even Monk!

I’d like to have one of my children’s poetry manuscripts accepted for publication.

I’ve never been to the Southwest. I want to vacation in New Mexico.

I’d like to get into a more aggressive exercise routine. At present, I try to go for a brisk thirty-minute walk three to five times a week. I want to be thin and have taut muscles again. Oh, Time, what thou hath wrought on my aging physique!

Note: I am tagging anyone who wants to respond to Cloudscome’s meme. Just let me know if you do take up the “4 New X 2” meme gauntlet.

My Other Meme Posts This Week

8 Things about Me Meme

What One Thinking Blogger Has Been Thinking About

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What One Thinking Blogger Has Been Thinking About

Okay…I knew that the “Thinking Blogger Award” had run its course once I had been tagged. Be that as it may, I know—thanks to Michele at Scholar’s Blog—that at least one kidlit blogger thinks I think. And so, with Michele in mind, I thought I’d think before I posted my response. In fact, I thought I’d write about some things that have had me thinking a lot recently. They've had my husband thinking, too.

I suppose you’d like to know what’s gotten two old fogies to thinking. Well, our aging gray matter got a jolt while we were watching a clip from the first Republican Presidential Debate. When the moderator asked the participants who don’t believe in evolution to raise their hands, Hubby and I saw the hands of three presidential candidates spring up. Right proud they were of being unbelievers in the progression of species over billions of years! Yep, thirty percent of the Republicans hoping to be elected our next President think that evolution is a fantasy. Maybe they think that it was story “created” by a nefarious band of Godless heathens known as l-i-b-e-r-a-l-s!

Following along in the “Evolution Is Evil” trend, we have the new Creation Museum. Yep, Hubby and I read all about it in the Boston Globe on Sunday. Then we saw news clips about the museum that just opened in Kentucky on television. It seems Ken Ham, founder of the museum, thinks the Earth is a mere six thousand years old—give or take a Memorial Day or two. Mr. Ham, a believer in a literal translation of the Bible, doesn’t want America’s children to be indoctrinated with the Darwinian explanation of the “Origin of the Species.” Heaven forbid! He feels children must learn the scientific facts about the creation of the Earth and its species via Genesis. A pox on schools that teach America’s youth about evilution! (I meant to spell the word that way.)

Hmmm…maybe the next Republican Presidential Debate should be held at the Creation Museum. What do you think?

Quoted from the About Us page at the Creation Museum:

The Creation Museum will be upfront that the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice, and in every area it touches upon.

We’ll begin the Museum experience by showing that “facts” don’t speak for themselves. There aren’t separate sets of “evidences” for evolution and creation—we all deal with the same evidence (we all live on the same earth, have the same fossils, observe the same animals, etc.). The difference lies in how we interpret what we study. We’ll then explore why the Bible—the “history book of the universe”—provides a reliable, eye-witness account of the beginning of all things.

I don’t know about you—but I attended parochial school for twelve years. We read all kinds of Bible stories from both the Old and the New Testaments. I was also taught about evolution in science class.

Oh, to have Kurt Vonnegut still with us! I would love to hear his take on the "Creation versus Evolution" Brouhaha. And bring back Clarence Darrow!!!

Well…all this talk of evolution and the Bible and creation that’s been in the news has got me to thinking about some of the famous pairs in Biblical and World History. Maybe you can help me add more pairs to my list.

Famous Pairs from Biblical and World History

Adam & Eve
Cain & Abel
Samson & Delilah
David & Bathsheba
Sodom & Gomorrah
Joseph & Mary
Fred & Wilma Flintstone
Barney & Betty Rubble
Caesar & Cleopatra
King Henry VIII & His First Wife
King Henry VIII & His Second Wife
King Henry VIII & His Third Wife
King Henry VIII & His Fourth Wife
King Henry VIII & His Fifth Wife
King Henry VIII & His Sixth Wife
George & Martha
Franklin & Eleanor
Roy Rogers & Trigger
Ron & Nancy
Simon & Garfunkel

Note: Thanks to Hanna-Barbera Productions, the in-depth scientific research they conducted, and their ancient tales of the Flintstones and the Rubbles, we Americans know that dinosaurs and human beings coexisted on this planet. Hail to Dino!!! Darwin be dammed!

Thanks to Becky at Farm School for this link to the Creation Museum Carnival.

The Thinking Blogger rules are as follows:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

I am breaking Rule Number One and tagging any blogger who has been thinking about the same things I've been thinking about and would care to respond to this post.

Whew! All this thinking about creation and evolution has addled my old brain. I think I’ll fix me a margarita, sit out on my back deck in this beautiful warm weather, and wait for the Rapture! Have a nice day.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Greetings from Miss Rumphius in China!

Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect wrote to ask me if I would help her out. She has not been able make any kind of posts about her trip recently. She asked if I would inform folks as to her whereabouts with a short note lest people think she has disappeared or given up writing about her travels.

Tricia arrived yesterday in Kunming after a very brief touchdown in Shangri La. She has a full day today, a visit to a University tomorrow morning, and then an afternoon flight to Shanghai. She will see if things improve by then. If you don't see any more posts, however, she wants you to know why.

She says that she is still having a terrific time, despite breaking her camera on the trip to Yamdrok Lake. She is now relying on the kindness of her colleagues to supply her with pictures.


Vivian from HipWriterMama tagged me for this meme.

Here are the rules: Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I really liked being an elementary school teacher for more than thirty years—but I absolutely loved serving three years as our school librarian. I enjoyed working on collection development, sharing new books with the staff, and developing a more aggressive gift book program that brought in more than $4,000 in donations during my first year in the library. I did a lot of outreach with the faculty—and even took two teachers on a book buying field trip one day.

2. I detest hot, humid weather. I find it debilitating. Summer is not my favorite season. I much prefer autumn days when the air is crisp and cool. September and October are the months I like best.

3. I live in the same area where I grew up, went to grammar school and high school, and attended college. I have known many of my closest friends since high school…and several of them since first grade. Most of us became teachers and social workers. Many of us are now retired.

4. I married my high school sweetheart. We met when we were fifteen…and we’re still together after more than forty-five years!

5. I have a keen interest in the sciences so I read/have read lots of nonfiction books, such as E=mc2: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation; Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA; American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer; and books by authors like the late Stephen Jay Gould, Lewis Thomas, and Carl Sagan.

6. I love making puns, playing around with words, and making people laugh.

7. Ramona Geraldine Quimby is one of my all time favorite characters from children’s literature. I had so much fun reading books about Ramona to my students. They loved that spunky girl, too, and were always eager to hear me read another chapter about her escapades at home and at school. She was one storybook character who truly came alive for my pupils…and me!

8. Some of my fondest memories of my daughter’s younger days are of her sitting on my lap on the red-cushioned rocking chair in my bedroom just before bedtime while I read her some of her favorite books: Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Green Eggs and Ham, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

I tag the following bloggers:

Alvina at Bloomabilities
Jone at Check It Out
Robin at A Fondness for Reading
Gail at Through the Studio Door
Laura at Wordy Girls
Susan at Chicken Spaghetti
Gregory K. at GottaBook
Erin at Miss Erin

Sunday, May 27, 2007

More Mary Ann Hoberman

I had been waiting with excitement for May 23rd to arrive—the date of the spring meeting of the Massachusetts PAS North Shore Council of IRA. I had invited Mary Ann Hoberman to be our guest speaker—and was really looking forward to seeing her again.

Mary Ann Hoberman

On Wednesday evening, the weather was perfect for our gathering at the gorgeous Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead. While most of our council members were sipping cocktails and basking in the sun on the club’s porch—which has a stunning view of the harbor—I was inside with my cell phone close at hand keeping my fingers crossed that Mary Ann would find her way to the club. She had called me earlier to tell me that she had gotten lost on her way to Marblehead—which is not easy to find. I was also worried because of the slow-moving traffic in this area—which can be a nightmare at rush hour. (It took Anna Alter and Mary Newell DePalma more than two hours to get to Marblehead from Boston—a distance of less than twenty miles!!!) And there was a DETOUR at the entrance to Marblehead Neck. There are just two main roads that split off from the causeway—and guess which one was blocked? Yep, the one that takes you directly to the yacht club.

Well…Mary Ann Hoberman arrived around 6:15—not at 5:00, as we had planned. After nearly seven grueling hours on the road trying to find her way to the Corinthian Yacht Club, Mary Ann changed, freshened up, and was the epitome of elegance and composure as she stepped up to the podium and began her presentation. I was the one who was frazzled—and I forgot to take out my notebook so I could jot down Mary Ann’s words of wisdom and some important points from her talk. Fortunately, my memory didn’t fail me completely…so I do have a few things to tell you about her presentation.

Mary Ann shared some poems from her first published book ALL MY SHOES COME IN TWOS, which was illustrated by her husband, and from other books. She spoke about literacy and children learning to read and how she knew from a very early age that she wanted to be a writer. She never thought, however, that she would write books for children. Mary Ann feels English is a wonderful and rich language that can be used in inventive and playful ways by a poet. She told us about a children’s novel that she has written and about how she decided to censor the story herself. (You can learn more about this at the PEN link below.) She also talked about her series of You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You books, which were written for two voices.

This series of books, which were written in verse, are very popular with teachers and parents. In fact, the first book in the series, YOU READ TO ME, I’LL READ TO YOU: VERY SHORT STORIES TO READ TOGETHER, was on the New York Times Best Seller List for fifteen weeks! Mary Ann said she loves the illustrations Michael Emberley did for this series—and explained that the fourth book in the series, YOU READ TO ME, I’LL READ TO YOU: VERY SHORT SCARY TALES TO READ TOGETHER, was Michael’s idea. This book will be released in August. Judging from the “scary tale” she and I read aloud to the audience from her advance copy—the fourth book in the series will be just as outstanding as the first three.

Find Out More about Mary Ann Hoberman and Her Poetry

Mary Ann Hoberman’s Website

A Poem Is a House for Words: NCTE Profiles Mary Ann Hoberman

Insights Beyond the Movie, an Author Program In-depth Interview with Mary Ann Hoberman at

In Mary Ann Hoberman: And Yet… , Mary Ann tells about a children’s novel she wrote recently, looks back on her childhood, and discusses self-censorship. This article can be found at the PEN American Center.

Portraits from the Spring Meeting of the PAS North Shore Council

Leslie & Sally

Leslie was one of the fabulous first grade teachers at my school. She will retire in June.
Sally was my outstanding Library Assistant.

Kathy & Anna Alter

Kathy is one of my oldest friends. She retired from teaching last June.

Mary Newell DePalma and Dr. Margaret (Peg) Voss Howard

Peg is the author of HIDDEN LITERACIES, which was published by Heinemann. Peg and I used to be in a writers group together.

Kate & Virginia

Kate was a student in my children's literature course. Viriginia is a past president of our council.

Carolyn & Kristen

Carolyn is my niece and Kristen is Kathy's daughter.

Friday, May 25, 2007

POETRY FRIDAY: Touching the World

During the month of April, Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect posted some blog articles about children exploring the natural world—and how, all too often, children seem to have much less of a connection to the world of nature around them. Our children today often spend many of their hours outside of school—inside. Yes, they are inside watching television or playing video games instead of playing with friends outdoors and climbing trees, picking wildflowers, watching ants crawling in and out of anthills, investigating the life in a pond, and stopping to listen to the different sounds of summer like cicadas stinging the still air.

From the Miss Rumphius Effect

Break a Leg-Climb More Trees!

Exploring the Natural World-Part 1

Exploring the Natural World-Part 2

Exploring the Natural World-Part 3

As I was exploring the website of Joyce Sidman, one of our best writers of nature poetry for children, I came upon Touching the World: The Importance of Teaching Poetry, a wonderful article she wrote and has reprinted from the Spring 2002 issue of Riverbank Review. She touches on some of the same things Tricia does in her blogs. I have an excerpt of the Joyce Sidman’s article below.


I face a roomful of fifth or sixth graders on the first day of a week-long poetry residency armed with three things: an activated imagination, a handful of poems, and a random object from the classroom, like a stapler or a roll of tape. My goal is to lead these students into the mind-set of Muhammed al-Ghuzzi's poem, "The Pen":

Take a pen in your uncertain fingers.
Trust, and be assured
That the whole world is a sky-blue butterfly
And words are the nets to capture it.

We will get there by using the tools of close observation, sensory detail, and metaphor. Younger children live and breathe metaphor; it comes to them as naturally as speaking. Older children often must be reminded, so I read them Valerie Worth, who looks at earthworms and sees

New rubies
Dug out of
Deepest earth

and describes a beetle that

Its precious
Packed in
A laquered
Coffer of

Why read them poems about worms and beetles? Because the physical world--and the profound lessons that direct contact with that world offers--have, sadly, receded into the background of their lives. Kids today don't get out much, either at school or in their leisure time. They may frequent the playground as young children, but after a certain age--roughly seven--they begin to conceptualize the world in their play, approach it through the virtual avenues of television, video games, and the Internet. If they want to find out about oak trees, they cruise the Web. If they want to play a game, they hit homers with a game pad, or build roller coasters with a mouse. More often than not, the dominant images they view every day are created by other minds, other imaginations--with sometimes dubious motives.

There are times when I want to leave the classroom behind, to haul my students--and myself--outside, just to feel the sunshine and smell the wind. To collect things that we usually take for granted or barely see: blades of grass, each with its own perfect symmetry and delicate tip, feathers from unknown birds, flowers from weeds, even dollops of mud. I want us to lie on our backs and notice how clouds fold together and curl apart, how the branches of trees are echoed in their leaves, how ants meet and kiss, exchanging mysterious information before continuing in opposite directions.

To fully engage myself and my students with the physical world, I turn to poetry: the reading of it, and, more importantly, the writing of it. Poetry, with its focus on the particular, can help restore rusty powers of observation, reawaken dulled senses, rekindle a latent sense of wonder. While it is not always possible to go out and find leaves and feathers, there are always--even in the classroom--opportunities to observe.

Read the rest of Sidman’s article here.

When I was teaching second grade, the first field trip I took my students on every September was a walk in the woods. It’s amazing how excited my kids got when I pointed out the science that was right before their eyes—things they might never bother to look at carefully: insect galls, lichens growing on rocks and trees, different kinds of fungi. We would turn over rotting logs and find slippery little salamanders, sow bugs, and other tiny creatures. There is a world of wonder for kids to discover in nature…if we parents and teachers lead the way.

What Sidman does in her poetry classes is to help children to open their eyes and their minds and to prepare them to really look at things in the world around them.

To Look at Any Thing, a poem written by John Moffitt, is one I used to share with my students. It’s a poem that speaks to the same approach that Sidman writes about in her article.


To look at any thing,
If you would know that thing,
You must look at it long:
To look at this green and say,
“I have seen spring in these
Woods,” will not do - you must
Be the thing you see…

You can read the full text of the poem at A Wrung Sponge.


The book A CROW DOESN’T NEED A SHADOW: A GUIDE TO WRITING POETRY FROM NATURE is an excellent resource for teachers who like to connect the exploration of nature with the development of their students’ language and writing skills. Chapter titles in the book include: Poetry Field Trips, Building a Nature Wordscape, and Keeping a Nature Journal. The book also includes ideas for writing poetry with students and an anthology of poems written by students from the ages of 7 to 16.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Foundation for Children's Books Annual Meeting 2007

This will be a quick post because I have to sit myself down and write welcoming remarks for tonight’s spring meeting of the Massachusetts PAS North Shore Council of IRA and an introduction for Mary Ann Hoberman—who is going to be the featured speaker. Mary Ann is one of my favorite poets…and a topnotch presenter. I am really looking forward to seeing and hearing her again!

Last night I attended the Annual Meeting of The Foundation for Children’s Books at Boston College. It was also the last session of the Conversations with…series, New England Voices, which highlights the new work of area authors and illustrators. Last night we heard Mitali Perkins, Jamie Harper, and Jacqueline Davies read from their most recent books.

Anna Alter, Judy O'Malley of Charlesbridge, & Mitali Perkins

Mitali read an excerpt from RICKSHAW GIRL. She also gave us a rundown of the kind of presentation she does at middle schools. I have no doubt that she’s a smash hit at every school where she presents. She’s personable, funny, and full of life.
Jamie Harper read her humorous picture book MISS MINGO AND THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. She told us a truly funny story about a school visit, a tarantula, and her arachnophobia.

Jamie Harper Signing Books

Jacqueling Davies read her new picture book THE HOUSE TAKES A VACATION and an excerpt from THE LEMONADE WAR. Not only that—Jacqueline even brought along her famous lemonade stand…at which she did her book signing. What an ingenious marketing idea!!!

Now that I've figured out how not to take blurry pictures...I think I need to working on lighting. I guess I'll just have to READ THE MANUAL!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A PERFECT PAIR: Lissy's Friends & Fold Me a Poem

In Welcome to Wild Rose Reader, my inaugural post, I set down my high hopes for this blog. One of the things I want to write about are books that make a perfect pair—or two books with a common storyline or theme. I decided to wait until LISSY’S FRIENDS, Grace Lin’s new book, was published before I wrote my first perfect pair post. That’s because I think Grace’s picture book and Kristine O’Connell’s George’s poetry book FOLD ME A POEM would be great to use together in a classroom mini-unit.

Written & illustrated by Grace Lin
Viking, 2007

LISSY”S FRIENDS is a story about a young child who is the “new girl at school.” Lissy feels like an outsider. She has no friends. She spends her recess time alone on the playground. She eats lunch by herself. One day during lunch, Lissy takes the school menu and folds it into a paper crane, which she appropriately names Menu. Before Lissy knows it…Menu comes to life and flutters its paper wings. None of the other children are aware of this. Now Lissy has a happy little secret…and a new friend! The next day, Lissy crafts more friends for herself from colorful, patterned origami paper. Her new friends go everywhere with her—even to school. Lissy doesn’t feel lonely any longer.

One day Lissy takes her paper animals to the playground. They all crowd onto the merry-go-round. Lissy runs fast and pushes the merry-go-round so hard that SWOOSH! her friends fly off and are carried aloft by a strong wind. Lissy is distraught. She has lost her only friends. She sits on the playground equipment and buries her face in her hands.

Then a schoolmate named Paige comes along holding Menu. She asks Lissy if Menu is hers. Paige thinks the paper crane is nifty and asks Lissy if she will show her how to make one. Soon after that, Paige comes to Lissy’s house and the “new” friends make origami animals, chatter, and laugh with each other. In the illustration other children from the school are pictured peeking in the window at the two girls. The very next day, we see Lissy happily spinning around on the merry-go-round with lots and lots of school friends—most of whom are holding origami animals. She has been accepted into the group.

The final illustration in the book shows a picture of Lissy’s animal friends sitting at a table in an outdoor café in Paris and a postcard message saying: “We hope you are doing well. We are having fun traveling the world. We miss you.”

LISSY’S FRIENDS is a story to which many young children can relate—whether they are new students in a school or shy or different children who may have few close friends. This is a fantasy that touches on reality: a child who feels alone in a sea of children. It’s about a child with an imaginative mind who decides to occupy her “lonely” lunchtime with a creative pursuit. It is this artistic craft that helps bring her into a circle of “real” friends.

Grace’s illustrations in LISSY’S FRIENDS have everything we have come to expect in her picture book art: lots of bright colors, lots of different patterns, and the trademark swirls in the sky. The illustrations help tell Lissy’s story and are a perfect complement to the text.
The Lissy Doll
(Note: Grace Lin is a good friend—but I would not have written this review if I didn’t think LISSY’S FRIENDS was worthy of recommendation.)

True Story
I once had a student (I’ll call Eddie) in my second grade. Eddie was overweight. He had learning difficulties, a terrible home life, behavior problems…and no friends in my classroom. Eddie was, however, one of the most artistically gifted children I ever had as a student—and also one of the funniest. I loved that kid!

We did lots of art projects in my room. I praised Eddie’s creations…showed them to his classmates. And I laughed at the funny comments he made. My other pupils began to see Eddie in a new light. They often asked for his help when working on their own projects. He began to feel good about himself. His behavior improved and he began to work harder in school. Even the music teacher spoke to me one day about Eddie’s remarkable metamorphosis.

I knew Eddie was one smart kid. I referred him for additional testing that year. His IQ determined by a WISC? 136!!! This story is an example of how a career in education can bring a teacher great personal rewards.


Written by Kristine O'Connell George

Illustrated by Lauren Stringer
Harcourt, 2005

FOLD ME A POEM is an excellent book to share with children after reading and discussing LISSY’S FRIENDS. It’s a collection of poems about origami creations—most of which are animals, including a rooster, a camel, a robin, dogs, a cheetah and lion, a frog, peacocks, a snake, rabbits and foxes, and penguins. George’s poems are haiku-like in their simplicity. Stringer’s uncluttered, colorful acrylic illustrations are a perfect complement to the spare text. This is a book in which art and text work hand in hand to make a unified pair of creative expressions about origami. Stringer even paints the endpapers to resemble six different patterns of origami papers.

At the end of the book there is A Note from the Illustrator in which Stringer informs readers of how she learned to do paper folding in preparation for painting the illustrations for FOLD ME A POEM. She even includes a bibliography of books about origami.

Find Out More about FOLD ME A POEM

Visit the FOLD ME A POEM page at Kristine O’Connell George’s website for links to teaching resources and further information about the book. Click on the titles below to read two poems from the collection:

Lauren Stringer also has a FOLD ME A POEM page at her website. It includes links to a teacher’s guide, a view of an illustration from the book, and step-by-step instructions for making a paper snake, rooster, giraffe, and penguin.

What Do You Do with Books Like These?
It could be great fun to do a mini literature-writing-art unit in an elementary classroom using LISSY’S FRIENDS and FOLD ME A POEM. A teacher could read and discuss the story of how Lissy made her paper friends to keep her company when she felt lonely. Then, maybe with the help of the art teacher, students could make their own origami animals. And, finally, students could write poems about their paper animal friends…using George’s poems as models for their own writing. I think the children's origami art animals and poems would make an outstanding display in a classroom or school hallway.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Happy Birthday & Bon Voyage, Grace!

Boy! It’s been a busy weekend. I had hoped to write up my post about Grace’s party and post it this morning…but I had a birthday brunch engagement with ten of my oldest and dearest friends. (It isn’t my birthday. One of my friends turns sixty-one today…and one will turn sixty on Tuesday.) And when I say oldest friends, I mean it! Some of us have known each other since first grade. In fact, three of us attended elementary school, high school, and college together!

Here I am with my friends Kathy and Elly.

Well…Grace’s combination birthday, book launch, and bon voyage party was a smash! It was wonderful to see some of the Robert’s Snow artists—including Leo Landry, Nicole Tadgell, Mary Newell DePalma—as well as Linda Wingerter, and Anna Alter, two of the Blue Rose Girls. Alvina Ling came—and Libby Koponen was there…with a “blue rose” in her hair! Actually, all of us Blue Rose Girls were ordered to wear the “blue roses” that Grace had made for us.

Libby, Grace, & I

Barbara O’Connor, author of HOW TO STEAL A DOG and other fine books, came too…as did Pat Keogh of the The Foundation for Children’s Books. I met Lolly Robinson, who is the Designer and Production Manager for The Horn Book Magazine, and her friend Elizabeth. I finally got the opportunity to meet and chat with Eisha of 7-Imp. (Eisha’s even cuter in person than she appears in the pictures you’ve seen of her at her blog—and she looks about eighteen!)

Lolly Robinson & Elizabeth

Anna & Eisha
I never bumped into Vivian of HipWriterMama. Then again, maybe I did bump into her without knowing it. The only clues I have of what she looks like are from her children’s drawings I have seen at her blog. Sorry, Vivian, but I didn’t see anyone who quite resembled those pictures yesterday!

Steve Engel, the man who cut all the wooden snowflakes for the Robert’s Snow auctions, traveled all the way from New York with his lovely wife and two friends. Both friends won prizes in the raffle—a limited edition print from FORTUNE COOKIE FORTUNES and the original painting of the party invitation. That was one group of celebrators that fortune smiled upon yesterday.

Mary Newell DePalma, Steve Engel, & Nicole Tadgell

This is the delightful limited edition print from FORTUNE COOKIES FORTUNES that was raffled off at the party.This is an image of the original painting of Grace's party invitation that a lucky individual won in the raffle.
One can be sure that there would be lots and lots and lots of cupcakes at a party that Grace Lin hosted. In fact, Grace said she, with the assistance of several kitchen helpers, baked and frosted 144 lemon, carrot, and “pink” velvet cupcakes. We had other edibles, too: sandwiches, and cheese and crackers, and artichoke dip, and tapenade, and a huge basket of delectable gourmet cookies, and two enormous—and elegant—fruit arrangements. (See the picture below of one of the food tables.) I brought the wine. Libby, Eisha, a few others and I enjoyed the Prosecco—a delicious Italian sparkling wine.
Once again, several of my photos came out blurry…so I don’t have as many pictures to post as I would have liked. I think I finally resolved my digital camera dilemma this morning!

Here’s a picture of Grace and her younger sister Ki-Ki. Ki-Ki is every bit as pretty and sweet as her older sister.

Grace & Ki-Ki

Grace was due to leave late this morning for San Antonio to join Robert who is already there. He will start his treatment in the clinical trial tomorrow. We are all hoping and praying for Robert

The Blue Rose Girls

From the Blue Rose Girls to Grace and Robert: We will miss you... and keep you in our thoughts.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

OUT & ABOUT: May 19, 2007

I am really going to be OUT today. I’ll be in Somerville, Massachusetts, at Grace Lin’s Bon Voyage Party. I’ll be celebrating Grace’s birthday and the launch of her new book, Lissy’s Friends, with the other Blue Rose Girls, friends of Grace and Robert, and bloggers from the Boston area. Grace will be leaving tomorrow for San Antonio! You can read all about it here at Grace's personal blog Pacyforest.

Get “in the swing” with the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Big A, little a.

In the “Say it ain’t so” or “too weird to be true” category—Kelly Herold has a post about a book entitled Latawnya, The Naughty Horse Learns to Say “No” to Drugs. Do check it out!

At The Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia keeps updating her blog journal to keep us apprised of her experiences in the Far East.

At Mitali’s Fire Escape, Mitali has a great overview of the Paper Tigers May/June issue for Asian/Pacific Heritage Month.

At 7-Imp, Jules has gone hogwild with her Picture Book Round-ups! Click here for Part One…here for Part Two…here for Part Three…here for Part Four…and here for Part I’m-Gonna-Stop-Counting.

Friday, May 18, 2007

POETRY FRIDAY: The Poetry of Mary Ann Hoberman

Any of you who are regular readers of Wild Rose Reader or Blue Rose Girls knows that I have a passion for children’s poetry. I own hundreds of children’s poetry books. I am always looking for out of print books written by children’s poets whose work I admire.

It was indeed a great pleasure for me to meet and get to know Mary Ann Hobeman, one of my favorite children’s poets, two summers ago at a children’s literature conference in Gorham, Maine. After the conference, Mary Ann was kind enough to send me two of her poetry books that have been out of print for quite some time: NUTS TO YOU & NUTS TO ME (published in 1974) and YELLOW BUTTER PURPLE JELLY RED JAM BLACK BREAD (published in 1981).

About Mary Ann Hoberman & Her Poetry

Mary Ann Hoberman is a true master of meter and rhyme. In fact, I would dare to say that most of the poems she has written scan perfectly. Her rhythmic, rhyming poetry is a pleasure to share with young children. Her poetry speaks to the subjects of a young child’s world and a young child’s fancy. She has written poems about all kinds of animals—from the tiny, short-lived Mayfly and many-legged centipede to the giraffe, hippopotamus, and whale. She has also written poems about families and weather and such common childhood experiences as swinging on a swing, playing dress up, roller-skating, celebrating birthdays, and learning to swim.

One of Mary Ann’s poetry books that I consider to be an essential title to include in a lower elementary classroom library is THE LLAMA WHO HAD NO PAJAMA. This collection contains one hundred of Hoberman’s most popular poems selected from her earlier works. Its poems are sure to delight and engage young children. In fact, many of the poems in this book—such as Hello and Good-by, Windshield Wipers, Ducks, Snow, and Yellow Butter—beg to be memorized.


Written by Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrated by Betty Fraser

Browndeer Press/Harcourt Brace (1998)

Here is one of my favorite poems from THE LLAMA WHO HAD NO PAJAMA:

by Mary Ann Hoberman

Think how fast a year flies by
A month flies by
A week flies by
Think how fast a day flies by
A Mayfly’s life lasts but a day
A single day
To live and die
A single day
How fast it goes
The day
The Mayfly
Both of those.
A Mayfly flies a single day
The daylight dies and darkness grows
A single day
How fast it flies
A mayfly’s life
How fast it goes.

Three other poems that are included in THE LLAMA WHO HAD NO PAJAMAFish, The Folk Who Live in Backward Town, and Brother—can be found at the website of the Poetry Foundation.

From Fish

Look at them flit
Tearing around
With a leap and a bound…

Read the rest of the poem here.

From The Folk Who Live in Backward Town

The folk who live in Backward Town
Are inside out and upside down.
They wear their hats inside their heads
And go to sleep beneath their beds.

Read the rest of the poem here.

From Brother

I had a little brother
And I brought him to my mother
And I said I want another
Little brother for a change.
But she said don’t be a bother
So I took him to my father
And I said this little bother
Of a brother’s very strange.

Read the rest of the poem here.

THE LLAMA WHO HAD NO PAJAMA is a treasure chest of poems—each of which is a little gem just right for sharing with children...each of which is just right for showing children how much fun language can be.

If you enjoyed reading these poems, you may want to visit the Poems page of Hoberman’s website where you will find several more of her works.

I’ll close my post this Poetry Friday with the ending lines from the last poem in THE LLAMA WHO HAD NO PAJAMA.

From Good Morning When It’s Morning

Good morning to the sunshine
Good evening to the sky
And when it’s time to go away

(I would like to thank Mary Ann Hoberman for giving me permission to print the full text of her poem Mayfly.)

Happy Poetry Friday!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

And the Winner Is...

Poetry lover Laura Purdie Salas, one of the Wordy Girls and a poet herself, is the winner of a book that will be signed next week by the children’s author who is going to be the featured speaker at the spring meeting of the Massachusetts PAS North Shore Council of IRA. (You can read more about it here.) Laura correctly guessed that our speaker is going to be Mary Ann Hoberman, the award-winning author of more than forty outstanding children’s poetry books and picture books in verse. Mary Ann Hoberman was the 2003 recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. She is also the winner of a National Book Award.

Mary Ann published her first book, ALL MY SHOES COME IN TWOS, fifty years ago.

She is still writing wonderful books for children today. The books in her You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You series, written for two voices, are great fun to read aloud and have become popular with children and adults alike. You can read a review of one of the books in the series, YOU READ TO ME I’LL READ TO YOU: VERY SHORT FAIRY TALES TO READ TOGETHER, in my Poetry Friday: Fairy Tale Poems post at Blue Rose Girls.

I'll have more about Mary Ann Hoberman and her books tomorrow for Poetry Friday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? #1 ( Part 2)

Would you like to win a children's book written by an award-winning children's poet?

I originally posted the paragraph you will read below on April 25th. Only one person, Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect, responded to my query. No one else chose to guess the answer to my question in hopes of winning a dinner at a beautiful yacht club in Massachusetts. I understand. Many of you don't live in the I'm changing the prize!

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 give the title of her first published book will receive a book written--and signed--by this award-winning children's author.

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.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Extra, Extra...Read All about It!

The Edge of the Forest: Volume II, Issue 5

You won’t want to miss this issue. This month Kelly Herold says The Best of the Blogs “is devoted to our favorite posts of the month.” The column rounds up all the bog discussions and debates that have taken place recently regarding print reviews versus blog reviews. Kelly Fineman has an interview with author David Lubar and Kelly Herold has an interview with Tracy Grand in her All You Ever Wanted to Know about JacketFlap and More. Marta Ferguson reviews Chih-Yuan Chen’s Guji Guji—one of my favorite picture books. Oh, there’s a lot more—but you already know that, don’t you?

The 14th Carnival of Children’s Literature

The deadline for submissions is Thursday, May 17th…so head on over to Chicken Spaghetti. Susan’s got the scoop on the upcoming carnival whose theme is FIESTA! A Multicultural Celebration.

Bon Voyage, Miss Rumphius

You may want to stop by The Miss Rumphius Effect to wish Tricia a fond farewell before she embarks on her adventure to Southeast Asia. Yep, she’s leaving on a jet plane in a little while…and she’s leaving us with her awesome itinerary!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

My Favorite Mother's Day Present...Ever!!!

More than two decades ago—when my daughter Sara was just three years old—I received a Mother’s Day gift that I will never forget. It wasn’t an expensive piece of jewelry, a gift certificate to a designer boutique, or a weekend at a beauty spa. No…it was a nondescript ceramic mug selected by my young daughter when her “daddy” took her shopping to buy me something special for that special Sunday.

My Daughter Sara at Three

My husband brought my daughter to a shop that sold kitchen utensils, dinnerware, and pottery. He suggested to Sara that a mug for my morning coffee might make a nice gift for her mommy. She looked at the racks of mugs, pointed to a beige mug with a brown handle that had some writing on it and said, “I want that one, Daddy.” My husband read the writing on the side of the mug and tried to turn her attention to other coffee mugs. He pointed out one with brightly colored fish. “No,” my daughter said as she pointed again to her first selection, “I want that one.” My husband then showed her a mug with pretty flowers painted on it. “How about this one?” he asked. “No, Daddy! I want that one!” My husband could not change my daughter’s mind about the gift she wanted to give Mommy.

And so, reluctantly, my husband took the beige mug from the shelf and brought it to the sales clerk who read the writing on the mug and looked at him reproachfully. “This is a Mother’s Day gift?” she asked him with an edge to her voice. “Yes,” he gulped. She shook her head.

On Mother’s Day 1983, I unwrapped my daughter’s present…and laughed…and laughed. Every time I look at that mug I laugh. Here’s a picture of it:

Here’s what the writing on the mug says in case you can’t read it in the picture:

My Mother
Always told me:
Son, you can’t buy
But she never told me
That I couldn’t
RENT it.

Is that too funny??? I think it is. And that’s the story of my favorite Mother’s Day present…ever!!! And here's a recent picture of my beautiful, funny daughter...who keeps me laughing.

Have you got any tales to tell about your favorite Mother’s Day gift?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

OUT & ABOUT: May 12, 2007

Jules and Eisha have a wonderful interview with Grace Lin, one of my fellow Blue Rose Girls, at 7-Imp. You won’t want to miss seeing some of Grace’s beautiful artwork…and her self-portrait!

Susan has news about the Ezra Jack Keats Book Awards and the Jane Addams Children's Book Awards at Chicken Spaghetti.

Robin at A Fondness for Reading has a very touching post about her father who passed away thirteen years ago. In her post Footprints on the Sands of Time, she explains her father’s “Family History” project.

Vivian has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at HipWriterMama. Note: A number of us bloggers posted poems for and about mothers especially for Mother’s Day.

Tricia challenges us to take a Geography Quiz at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

In her post The Film Is Up! , MotherReader has a link to the most recent film that was directed and edited by her husband and produced by MR. The film’s screenplay was written by author and blogger Robin Brande. Congratulations to this trio of talented individuals!

Check out the Children’s Literacy Round-Up: May 7 at Jen Robinson’s Book Page for some interesting reading.

Friday, May 11, 2007

POETRY FRIDAY: A Sonnet for My Mother

This is a special Poetry Friday post for my mother who was the eldest of four children of Polish immigrants who came to the United States in the early 20th Century. My mother, whose name is Mary…or Manya as her parents and siblings called her, has always been the kind of person to take care of others. She cared for her younger siblings when they were growing up. She pampered my father. She cared for her parents and mother-in-law in their elder years. She often babysat for my sister’s two daughters when they were young. And she helped to raise my daughter by taking over the responsibility of being her caregiver on school days when I returned to teaching after my much-too-brief maternity leave.

It’s hard to express to my mother how much she means to me. It's hard to thank her for the many kindnesses she has done for my family and me and for all the sacrifices she has made over the years. I do find that poetry can often express feelings and thoughts that can touch one’s inner soul and heart in ways that prose cannot.

Here is a sonnet for my mother for Mother’s Day 2007:

Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
by Christina Rossetti

Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome

Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
Whose service is my special dignity,
And she my loadstar while I go and come
And so because you love me, and because
I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honored name:
In you not fourscore years can dim the flame
Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws
Of time and change and mortal life and death.

My Mother with One of Her Great Grandsons
(Christmas 2002)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What Books Am I Reading?

Camille at Book Moot tagged me with a book meme: What books are you reading?


I just began reading an ARC of Grace Lin’s second novel THE YEAR OF THE RAT, which is the sequel to her wonderful first novel for middle readers THE YEAR OF THE DOG.

I picked up a batch of picture books the other day that I just read this morning.

WITH YOU ALWAYS, LITTLE MONDAY, which was written and illustrated by Genevieve Cote; WHAT A TREASURE!, by Jane and Will Hillenbrand; I’D REALLY LIKE TO EAT A CHILD, which was written by Sylviane Donnio and illustrated by Dorothee de Montfreid; MAMA’S SARIS, which was written by Pooja Makhijani and illustrated by Elena Gomez; and THAT RABBIT BELONGS TO EMILY BROWN, which was written by Cression Cowell and illustrated by Neal Layton.


I am reading HEY, YOU! POEMS TO SKYSCRAPERS, MOSQUITOES, AND OTHER FUN THINGS—with poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrations by Robert Rayevsky.


My husband recently brought home two books for me that I have wanted to read: THE WILD TREES: A STORY OF PASSION AND DARING by Richard Preston and BLACKWATER: THE RISE OF THE WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL MERCENARY ARMY. I can't decide which one to read first.

Another nonfiction book I really want to read is THE RIVER WHERE AMERICA BEGAN: A JOURNEY ALONG THE JAMES by Bob Deans.

I tag Grace Lin of Pacyforest and Blue Rose Girls, Robin of A Fondness for Reading, Vivian of HipWriterMama, Kelly of Big A, little a, and Mary Lee and Franki of A Year of Reading.
(I would have tagged Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect--but she's too busy getting ready for her big adventure!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

China Memories, China Treasures

As Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect prepares to embark on her adventure to the other side of the Earth, my thoughts turn to a time in the autumn of 1994 when I had the happy experience of traveling to the People’s Republic of China with a Children’s Literature and Language Arts Delegation led by Professor William Teale. Two other teams, led by Dr. Junko Yokota and Dr. Mingshui Cai, joined our group on the journey.

It was a glorious adventure spent with other teachers, college professors, and a children’s author. Our team traveled to Beijing, Nanjing, Suzhou, and Shanghai. We visited Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, the Ming Tombs, and the glorious gardens of Suzhou--among other historic and scenic places. We also visited children’s book publishing companies, elementary schools, and universities—and had roundtable discussions with fellow teachers, professors, and publishers. We even met some talented children’s book illustrators.

I wish I could relive that experience over and over again!

To Tricia: Have the time of your life, take lots of photos, and keep a journal so when you return you can tell us all about your time abroad. Oh...and spend lots of money buying beautiful things!!!

Here are pictures of just a few of the treasures I brought home with me from China…the absolute best treasures are memories of my days spent far from home.

Folk Art Paintings

An Exquisite Embroidery

Paper Cuttings

Bon Voyage, Tricia!