Friday, December 28, 2007

Winter Ballet: A Poem

I haven't been posting much in the past week. I got so busy with cooking and baking for the holidays, with celebrating and eating, with evaluating Cybils poetry books...that I decided to take a little break from blogging. I just had to post on Poetry Friday, though! So...I went looking for a winter poem in a collection of seasonal poetry entitled Tasting the Sun that I've worked on from time to time over the past couple of decades. Here's the poem I selected. It's about the first snow of the season.

by Elaine Magliaro

It’s white snow,

Bright snow,

Soft-as-feathers light snow…

Tiny ballerinas there

Pirouetting through the air

With their sparkly crystal shoes

In their winter dance debuts.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Check It Out this week.

Happy New Year to you all!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More Poetry for Christmas

Looking for some Christmas poetry? Here are some suggestions for you.

Try the Web sites of the Poetry Foundation and the Academy of American Poets. Both sites have a selection of poems for the holiday.

Poems that can be found at include the following:
  • A Visit from Saint Nicholas by Clement Clark Moore
  • Christmas at Sea by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Oxen by Thomas Hardy
  • Skating in Harlem by Cynthia Zarin
  • Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Poems that can be found at include the following:

  • little tree by e. e. cummings
  • Sonnet in the Shape of a Potted Christmas Tree by George Starbuck
  • Christmas Tree Lots by Chris Green
  • Christmas Eve: My Mother Dressing by Toi Derricotte

Looking for some collections with Christmas poems for children? See if you can find the following books in a local book store or the public library.

Compiled by Michael Harrison & Christopher Stuart-Clark
Oxford University Press, 1999

This illustrated anthology of fifty-four poems contains a number of traditional works, including The Twelve Days of Christmas; Away in a Manger; Oh, Would You Be a Shepherd Boy?; Joseph and the Angel; and It Was Poor Little Jesus, an American spiritual. There are poems by Eleanor Farjeon, Elizabeth Coatsworth, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, and Langston Hughes. Although there are three poems by Jane Yolen in this anthology, most of the contemporary poetry selected by Harrison and Stuart-Clark was written by British poets whose names are less familiar to Americans.

Selected by Lee Bennet Hopkins
Pictures by Melanie Hall
HarperCollins, 2004

This slim volume containing twelve Christmas poems is An I Can Read Book. Except for the excerpt from Away in a Manger, all of the poems were specially commissioned for this book. The poems are short—and many are rhythmic and rhyming.

The book opens with a poem entitled Waiting, in which a child speaks about her anticipation of the arrival of Christmas.

From Waiting
by Maria Fleming

And I go on waiting…
and waiting…
Waiting’s the worst.
Because Christmas is coming
and I’m ready to BURST.

There’s a lovely mask poem by Rebecca Kai Dotlich in which the poet speaks in the voice of the holiday.

From Soon
by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

I am tinsel.
I am plums.
I am jingle bells,
tin drums.
I am Santa’s
midnight sleigh.
Soon I will be
Christmas Day.

The anthology ends with a poem about a snow globe—also written by Maria Fleming.

From Snow Globe
by Maria Fleming

In here, it’s always
Christmas Day,
where a tiny Santa
rides a tiny sleigh…

Shake it,
and it snows and snows,
and Christmas never


Christmas Presents is a nice little package of holiday poems for beginning readers. It’s also a fine book to read aloud to very young children.

Written by Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Marilyn Hafner
HarperCollins, 1995

Let’s not forget Jack Prelutsky’s book It’s Christmas. Originally published in 1981, it is still in print today. This collection of rhythmic, rhyming poems about a Christmas tree, a letter to Santa Claus, Christmas cards, singing carols, and presents has real child-appeal. The poems in this book are fun to read aloud.

Click here to take a peek inside this book.

Written by Aileen Fisher
Illustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies
Henry Holt, 2007

This posthumous collection of winter and Christmas poems written by one of America's finest children's poets is topnotch!

Click here to read my review of Do Rabbits Have Christmas?.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Out & About: December 22, 2007

Stop by Big A Little A. Kelly Herold is hosting the December Carnival of Children’s Literature.

Susan Thomsen, with the help of other kidlit bloggers, has compiled a fine list of Christmas picture books and chapter books for children seven and older. Check out her post Merry Reading: Picture Books at Chicken Spaghetti.

Jen has a load of links to some great posts in her Wednesday Afternoon Visits: December 19 at Jen Robinson’s Book Page.

The Poetry Friday Roundup for December 21st is at AmoXcalli.

Jules and Eisha, the dynamic duo of 7-Imp, have another great feature about children’s poetry entitled More Than Mother Goose at the Web site of the Poetry Foundation.

From the CBC Magazine of the Children’s Book Council comes Hot Off the Press: A Sneak Peek at Publishers’ Newest and Hottest Titles.

From the Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC): ABC Best Books for Children (2007)

Also from ABC: The E. B. White Read Aloud Award

Friday, December 21, 2007

Untitled: A Poetry Stretch

I wrote the following poem for Tricia’s Monday Poetry Stretch—What Words?. The “stretch”—or challenge—is to write a poem that contains all of the following eight words: snow, frozen, wind, evening, woods, lake, village, farmhouse.

I’m not sure my poem is finished. I don’t have a title for it yet. Maybe you’d like to suggest one for me???

by Elaine Magliaro

A long way from the village,
near quiet woods,
snow settles on a frozen lake.
Burrowed in the mud below,
frogs dream the winter away.
Their larders full,
sleepy squirrels curl up
against the cold.
No wind stirs in the trees
this chill evening.
Everything is still.

In the distance,
a solitary farmhouse stands,
a weathered monument
to the past.
Here, in his lonely lair,
an old man
wraps himself in the silence
and his memories
and hibernates from the world.

Click here to find links to Poetry Stretch Results—What Words? at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at AmoXicalli this week.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Books in Verse

I have a stack of new Christmas picture books here that I had hoped to review for Wild Rose Reader by this time—but Thanksgiving and Robert’s Snow and preparations for Christmas have taken up much of my time in the past couple of weeks. Jules has some fine reviews of holiday picture books here and here and here at 7-Imp. You may want to read her impression of a sampling of Christmas titles that were recently published.

For today’s post, I thought I’d provide readers with a list of Christmas picture books that are written in verse. Except for Bear’s First Christmas, the books were published prior to 2007. I reviewed three of the books previously at Blue Rose Girls. All of the books are still in print.

By Janet & Allan Ahlberg
Little, Brown, 1991

In this sequel to The Jolly Postman, the postman goes about delivering mail to different fairy tale characters on the day before Christmas.

Once upon a Christmas Eve
Just after it had snowed,
The Jolly Postman (him again!)
Came down the jolly road…

Jolly Postman’s got a load of holiday tidings and packages in his mailbag—including a Christmas card for Baby Bear from Goldilocks and her baby sister; Beware!, a “hazardous” board game for Miss R. Hood from Mr. Wolf; and a jigsaw puzzle for Humpty Dumpty of himself from all the King’s men (and horses)—so Humpty can be put together again. At his final stop, the postman shares a cup of tea with the Clauses and receives a present himself. Not only that, Santa transports the postman and his bicycle back home in his sleigh.

In the final illustration, the Jolly Postman is settled into his armchair near the fireplace, his dog sleeping at his feet.

A Jolly Postman, warm and snug,
A postman’s dog upon the rug.
A clock that’s chiming in the hall.
A Merry Christmas—one and all!

The Jolly Christmas Postman would make a “jolly’ gift for some young child.

Written by Caralyn Buehner
Pictures by Mark Buehner
Dial, 2005

Snowmen at Christmas is the sequel to the popular bestseller Snowmen at Night. Although I think the text isn’t quite as strong in the sequel, this book is still a delight. In fact, I’d say it’s a visual feast for readers’ eyes. Mark Buehner’s illustrations are luminescent—street lanterns and strings of Christmas lights actually seem to glow on the pages. The outdoor scenes are infused with color. In some pictures, the sky and snow radiate shades of orange, pink, or purple—imbuing pictures of a cold winter night with warmth.

In this fanciful story, a young boy imagines how snowmen might celebrate Christmas. As he falls to sleep, the snowman in his front yard is shown slipping away. All the snowmen are on the move. They “glide down snowy avenues” and pass by shop windows “framed with twinkling lights.” They gather in the center of town and start their holiday celebration. They trim the square with icicles and holly. They enjoy frosty treats like ice cream and snow cones. Snow children play games.

Then the dancing begins:
To the tune of a fiddle,
All the snowmen line up,
And sashay down the middle.

Soon a snowman Santa appears on his flying toboggan and distributes presents. After Santa rides off, all the snowmen circle round a large Christmas tree and “sing songs about snow/and the birth of a King.” Finally, the snowmen, young and old alike, grow tired from their night of merriment.

The children are sleepy,
The grown-ups are yawning,
The snowmen go home
Just as Christmas is dawning.

By the time people arise early on Christmas morning, all of our frosty friends are back in place. They look no different from the previous day except that…

Their smiles are more tender,
Their eyes softly shine,
As the snowmen dream dreams
Of their Christmastime.

Mark Buehner’s art in Snowmen at Christmas is radiant! This picture book would be great even if it had no text. Pair this book with Raymond Briggs’ classic The Snowman.

By Wendell and Florence Minor
Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, 2005

Christmas Tree! is the first picture book collaboration between award-winning artist and illustrator Wendell Minor and his wife Florence. In her rhyming verse, Florence asks readers to imagine what kind of Christmas trees they would like to be. Her text is simple and spare. She doesn’t get too specific with her language. Wendell gets whimsical with his art, and his paintings provide the details—and images of what readers might picture in their heads.

Here are two excerpts from the book along with descriptions of the illustrations that are paired with them. So, readers, would you like to be...

A tree so
high it would
touch the sky?

In the illustration that accompanies this verse, Wendell paints the Statue of Liberty holding a lit Christmas tree aloft in her right hand instead of her torch.

Or a tree
so small it would
fit in the wall?

For this verse, Wendell illustrates four mice clustered around a star-topped tree made of cheese in their mouse hole. In some other illustrations, we see a huge Christmas tree balloon floating down a street in a city parade, a flock of white geese forming the outline of a holiday tree on a background of blue sky, and a tree decorated with carrots, apples, and sugar cubes—a tree just perfect for horses.

This book could be used as inspiration for an art lesson. Young artists could imagine themselves to be different kinds of Christmas trees. They could also picture themselves as trees in unique settings--shining out from a lighthouse or set at the top of a sailboat mast--the way Wendell does in this book.

By Wong Herbert Yee
Houghton Mifflin, 2004

Fireman Small is back to save the day—or should I say Christmas Eve—for Santa Claus. The diminutive fireman has been very busy chopping down a Christmas tree for Mayor Mole at the tree farm and putting up holiday lights and decorations in the city. By the time the stores close on Christmas Eve, Fireman Small is exhausted. He heads back to the firehouse, gets into bed, and pulls the covers over his head.

Around midnight, he hears a jingling of sleigh bells…then a CRASH! Santa has fallen head first into a coal bin and is covered with soot. Fireman Small washes Santa’s suit and tosses it into the dryer. When he removes Santa’s red suit from the dryer, he sees that it has shrunk! Then he finds Santa Claus fast asleep in his bed. Fireman Small wonders:

What about all the good girls and boys?
Who will deliver the rest of the toys?
Though Fireman Small should be snuggled in bed,
He races up to the rooftop instead.
Dressed in Santa’s suit, he hops in the sleigh.
But the reindeer refuse to fly away!

Now what is Fireman Small supposed to do? Why, he delivers all the presents in his fire truck instead! When Santa’s sack is empty, Fireman Small finally heads back to the firehouse and goes to bed. He arises on Christmas morning to find Santa and the sleigh gone—but the jolly old man has left a present for his little helper…along with a note, which includes the following lines:

Thank you, Fireman Small,
You’re a fine substitute.
Please keep this token,
My now tiny red suit!

The small size of this book and Yee’s charming watercolor illustrations make this a cozy book for sharing with a little someone cuddled on your lap.

Written by Robert Kinerk
Illustrated by Jim LaMarche
Simon & Schuster, 2007

A young bear finds a cave to hibernate in and settles down for the winter. He is awakened from his sleep by a mysterious sound. He leaves his cave to follow the sound. Along the way he meets and helps a number of other wild animals: a crow, a moose, a pheasant and her chicks. All the animals then follow the bear through the snow in hopes of finding a place where they can safely spend the night.

On the bear trudged till he saw, through more snow,
A lair or a burrow all lit by a glow.
Icicles hung from its top, sharp and bright.
Its sides had a space that was open for light.
And what’s this from inside? That wonderful sound!
After all of his trekking, its source had been found.

It’s not a lair or burrow that the animals have happened upon—it’s a house where a family is celebrating Christmas. The animals peer in through a window and see a room aglow with light—light from people’s faces and eyes and from a glorious Christmas tree. Then the family turns off the tree lights and goes off to bed. The animals don’t have a clue about the meaning of the lights and the music and the gladness they had witnessed this chill winter night.

As the animals trudge on, a spark inside them gives off an inner glow. Bear breaks a wide trail for moose who is carrying the pheasants on his back. The pheasants burst into song filling the air with sweet music. Finally, the animals arrive at bear’s “well-hidden den.” The animals hibernate in the safety of the cave until spring arrives. They are warmed with the memory of the light of the tree—a light that remains with them.

The text written in rhyming couplets is quite long. Nonetheless, this rhythmic tale scans well and is gorgeously complemented by Jim Lamarche’s illustrations. There’s a softness to LaMarche’s young bear, an endearing main character who is often depicted with a gentle, childlike expression. LaMarche varies the size of his pictures—some are double-page spreads, some are full-page spreads, and some are smaller spot illustrations. He also uses close-ups and changing perspectives to add visual interest to this quiet story.

Bear's First Christmas would be a good book to share with young children learning about hibernation.

You can read reviews of the following books in my Poetry Friday: Christmas Stories in Verse post at Blue Rose Girls.

By Robert Barry
Doubleday, 2000

Written by Rhonda Gowler Greene
Illustated by Henry Cole
Dutton, 2004

Written by Kathi Appelt
Illustrated by Jon Goodell
Harcourt, 2005

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Picture Book Review: The Best Christmas Ever

My daughter is a social worker for the Department of Social Services. Last week, she asked my husband and me if we would “adopt” a DSS family for Christmas. We told her we’d be happy to. So…Tuesday evening my daughter and I went shopping for clothes and toys and dolls and video games and sports equipment. We buzzed around the store from department to department with our shopping list and a big cart. By the time we hit the checkout counter, our cart was overflowing.

Because the holiday has become so commercialized, shopping for gifts lost its luster for me many years ago. I will admit, though, that I really enjoyed spending a couple of hours Christmas shopping with my only child. This time I knew my night out shopping could help to make Christmas special for a family of children that might otherwise go without presents. It was also a special night of mother-daughter bonding.

The Christmas season can be difficult for families who have come upon hard times—for parents who can’t afford to buy their children presents. There are lots of working families who struggle to get by from week to week. There are many families in need because of an illness or death of a parent…or because a parent in the military has been away from home for an extended period of time…or because a parent has lost his/her job.

With all this in mind, I thought I would write a review of a holiday book about a family that has no money to spend on presents yet still manages to have “the best Christmas ever.”

Written & illustrated by Chih-Yuan Chen
Heryin Books, 2005

It’s been a hard year for Little Bear’s family. Father Bear’s business failed and he couldn’t find work. There’s barely enough money to buy food—surely none for Christmas presents. A few days before Christmas, Mother Bear busies herself making decorations with Little Bear’s old clothes. Little Bear's older brother and sister decorate the windows in hopes that Santa Claus will see them. Father Bear goes out in search of branches from which he constructs a Christmas tree. Then he hangs ornaments on the tree and dusts it with white flour, which sifts “down to the branches below like fresh snow.” Little Bear also goes about his "holiday" business...unnoticed by the others.

For Christmas Eve, the Bear family has a tasty dinner that mother has made with a fish father caught. Then everyone goes quietly off to bed. Little Bear, who is unable to sleep, asks his father to tell him some Christmas stories. After Father Bear is finished with his stories, Little Bear reassures him: “Santa Claus brings us presents every year—he won’t forget this time.”

And sure enough, there is a present for each member of the family under the tree on Christmas morning. When Brother Bear unwraps his gift, he finds his own kite that had gotten stuck in a tree. The hole in it has been repaired and it’s now as good as new. Sister Bear’s gift is the umbrella she had left behind at the park. She is thrilled to have it back. Mother’s present is the missing button from her favorite dress—and Father’s is the hat that had blown off his head on the day he went in search of branches for their Christmas tree. Little Bear’s gift is his favorite baseball glove. It’s all clean and shiny and looks brand new.

After the excitement of opening presents is over, Sister Bear discovers tiny footprints in the flour under the tree. Whose could they be? They’re too small to have been made by Santa Claus—unless Santa is a dwarf! Father and Mother laugh. They know who made the footprints. They joke that the prints weren’t left by “Father” Christmas—but rather by “Toddler” Christmas. The family spends the rest of the holiday “discussing the mysterious gifts, and of course, the mysterious visit from “Toddler Christmas”. Some perceptive young readers may spot clues in Chen’s illustrations that will help them deduce that Little Bear was the one who found the lost objects and left them as presents under the tree.

With spare, uncluttered illustrations, Chih-Yuan Chen supports his tender story of a family fallen on hard times—a family that prepares for Christmas as best it can by improvising when there is no money to buy a tree or decorations or presents. Rather than bemoan their fate, family members busy themselves with holiday projects—and Little Bear, in particular, helps to make this the most memorable Christmas ever. This quiet, touching tale of a family finding joy in a “homemade” Christmas is memorable, too.

Here is how the story ends:

All those old familiar things,
newly presented, had rekindled
many fond memories.

And it was thus, that the Bears
had themselves…
the best Christmas ever.

Chih-Yuan Chen is also the author and illustrator of On My Way to Buy Eggs and Guji Guji—one of my all-time favorite picture books. You can find out more about this talented author and illustrator in Rising Star: Chih-Yuan Chen at the website of The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Candy Cane: A Poem

I wrote the following poem for Tricia’s Monday Poetry Stretch—Something Seasonal.

Candy Cane
by Elaine Magliaro

Wrapped in a cellophane of sound:
a striped stick of sweetness,
red as Rudolph’s nose,
white as Santa’s beard.
Crinkle open your peppermint present.
Let your tongue celebrate
the wintry taste of Christmas.

Click here to find links to Poetry Stretch Results—Seasonal Offerings at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Poetry for Christmas

Written by Aileen Fisher
Illustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies
Henry Holt, 2007

If you are looking for a collection of Christmas poems for young children, you’d be hard-pressed to find a book better than Aileen Fisher’s Do Rabbits Have Christmas?. Fisher (1906-2002) was the second children’s poet to be honored with the prestigious NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Most of Fisher’s poetry focuses on the natural world and on common childhood experiences. Her rhythmic, rhyming poetry is often written from a childlike perspective; her meter near flawless.

The poetry included in Do Rabbits Have Christmas? was selected from Fisher’s earlier works that were originally published from 1946-1991. The book’s fifteen poems take readers from late fall to early winter and the Christmas holiday. The young girl pictured in many of the illustrations appears to be the person “telling” the poems.

Fall Wind, the book’s first poem, is about a wild wind that has trees swishing, dipping, swaying, tossing, and falling leaves racing away. It’s a wind that brings news that winter’s on its way.

From Fall Wind

Everything is on the run—
willows swishing in the sun,
branches full of dip and sway,
falling leaves that race away…

all the sky is full of song:
“Winter’s coming. Won’t be long.”

Animals—rabbits, mice, chickadees, and a pet cat—factor in many of the poems. Snow Stitches is about a plucky little mouse “whose footprints show/like stitches in the new white snow.” In My Christmas Tree, a child decorates a “spruce/in the cold white wood” with a star of gold and suet balls for little chickadees. In Christmas in the Country, the girl talks to wild animals.

Christmas in the Country

Run, little wild ones,
over the snow,
peek through the trees
where yourselves won’t show,
look at the lights
on our Christmas tree,
brighter than any
stars you’ll see!

The illustration that accompanies this poem shows a family of rabbits outside a house trimmed with icicles. The rabbits, looking at the Christmas tree in a window, stand in the warm glow of light that shines out through the window.

The poems in this book may be for very young children…yet many are rich with imagery and figurative language. In Sparkly Snow, Fisher compares snowflakes to diamonds strewn on the ground by a reckless millionaire. In Frosty Window, window panes grow forests with “tall white ferns/and trees, and rivers/with twists and turns.” In the child’s imagination, the window has become a wintry wonderland “with flowers of ice” and she wishes she could “walk in a place that nice.”

In the poem December, the little girl tells of the things she likes about the last month of the year.

From December

I like days
with a snow-white collar,
and nights when the moon
is a silver dollar,
and hills are filled
with eiderdown stuffing
and your breath makes smoke
like an engine puffing .

The little girl, wondering in one poem if rabbits also have Christmas, imagines that the animals can celebrate under little spruces “where snow has made pompoms/with silvery handles/and frost has made tinsel/and icicle candles.”

There’s a delightful poem entitled Before Christmas in which the little girl tells of all the things she and her family do before the big holiday: sing, write cards, shop for and make presents, wrap gifts, frost cookies, buy and decorate a tree…"but most of all/we wait…and wait." The poem captures the anticipation a young child feels while eagerly awaiting Christmas.

Sarah Fox-Davies doesn’t break new ground with her artwork for this book. Fox-Davies, known for her wildlife illustrations, uses a palette of soft colors that do not overwhelm the text. The illustrations complement Fisher’s poems with more traditional looking art that hearkens back to an earlier time—a time when Fisher wrote many of the poems included in this book. Fox-Davies’ rabbits and mice and chickadees are both charming and realistic. Do Rabbits Have Christmas? would make a fine holiday gift for a young child or a family with young children.

I can attest to the child-appeal of Fisher’s poetry. I used to share many of the poems in this book with my students when I was an elementary school teacher.

Click here to learn more about Aileen Fisher.

Tricia has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Picture Book Review: Christmas Magic

Written by Sue Stainton
Illustrated by Eva Melhuish
Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, 2007

Here’s a Christmas picture book with glitter on the front cover, a diminutive and playful Santa Claus character who looks like a little elf, and a mystery to be solved: The magical reindeer bells are missing! Where, oh where, could they be? All the animals of the forest have a treasure hunt to find them—just as Santa had planned.

The forest creatures—including reindeer, a rabbit, a squirrel, a fox, a mouse, an owl and other birds— set off on their quest. They look high and low for the missing bells. They follow footprints in the snow. They listen for the jingling of reindeer bells. They even play tricks on each other. And they travel deeper and deeper into an ever-darkening forest in their search until…

All is quiet, all is black. They are lost.

They have not gone this far into the forest before. Ever.
The trees seem to close in behind them. Silence.

The animals become frightened. Then the moon comes out and lights up the forest. Surprise! That’s when they see a huge evergreen tree bedecked with red bows…and the missing reindeer bells! Music fills the forest. An excited Santa jumps out from behind the tree and does a cartwheel in the snow. He throws Christmas magic into the sky that sparkles all around them. The happy animals laugh and dance and look up at a night sky lit with shooting stars and moonbeams.

Christmas Magic is a slight mystery with a spare text. It is a book best for reading to just one or two young children who could look for and point out the little clues left for readers in the illustrations: a mitten in the snow and glimpses of the red tassel of Santa’s hat and the glow of his lantern.

Melhuish’s child-friendly illustrations suit this light-hearted holiday tale. Her art captures the playfulness of the story characters. Pictures of the creatures and Santa playing tricks and cavorting in the snow are set against a white background. Other pictures, set against a purplish-blue night, evoke a kind of wintry forest wonderland. The double-page spread of the animals lost deep in the forest is spooky—lit only by pairs of eyes staring out from the darkness.

I’ve been told by my friends who run a children’s book shop that they have gotten good feedback from customers about Christmas Magic. It appears that young children enjoy the story and especially like the illustrations. One of them has read it to her grandsons who are captivated by the spooky illustration of the animals lost in the woods.

Click here to see inside the book.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chanukah Lights Tonight: A Poem

I didn’t post for Poetry Friday at Wild Rose Reader or Blue Rose Girls last week. I just found the following poem and thought it would be perfect to post today as the end of Hanukkah draws near.

Chanukah Lights Tonight
by Steven Schneider

Our annual prairie Chanukah party—
latkes, kugel, cherry blintzes.
Friends arrive from nearby towns
and dance the twist to "Chanukah Lights Tonight,"
spin like a dreidel to a klezmer hit.

The candles flicker in the window.
Outside, ponderosa pines are tied in red bows.
If you squint,
the neighbors' Christmas lights
look like the Omaha skyline.

The smell of oil is in the air.

You can read the rest of the poem at American Life in Poetry: Column 140.

American Life in Poetry is a project for newspapers by Ted Kooser, a former Poet Laureate of the United States (2004-2006), and is made possible by The Poetry Foundation.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Robert's Snow: A Flurry of Flakes

I haven’t done much blogging in the past week. December started off on a very sad note for me. On the first day of the month I had to have my dear cat Suzie put to sleep.
A few days later, I was informed that the eldest daughter of one of my closest friends lost her battle with cancer. This capped off a twelve month period when I lost one dear friend, Robert Mercer, to cancer--a year when two of my first cousins and one of my husband’s and my oldest and closest friends were diagnosed with the dread disease. I have to admit to having felt quite low recently.

I didn’t let my feelings get in the way of bidding in the Robert’s Snow auctions. Robert’s Snow is a fundraiser dear to my heart. I won three snowflakes in auction 2. Then I bid with abandon in auction three—and won seven snowflakes! I was so sure that someone would outbid me on a number of the snowflakes I won—but no one did. I am truly ecstatic! I can’t wait until Christmas Eve. I don’t plan to open the “snowflake” packages I’ll receive until then. Actually, I plan to let my daughter have the honor of opening the packages for me.
Here’s is the flurry of flakes I won in Robert’s Snow 2007:

Susan Miller’s Snowflake
The Tree

Carol Schwartz’s Snowflake

Stephanie Roth’s Snowflake
Annamouse, Willamouse, and the Snowfall


Juli Kangas’s Snowflake
A Cozy Night for Cuddling Up

Susan Mitchell’s Snowflake

Annie Patterson’s Snowflake
Little Girl and Rabbit

Donald B. Johnson’s Snowflake
Henry Skates on a Pond

Mark Teague’s Snowflake
Larue Skating

Kathy Jakobsen’s Snowflake
Jefferson Memorial/Washington Monument

Elisa Kleven’s Snowflake
The Paper Princess and Her Friends

Please leave a comment if you won any snowflakes in Robert’s Snow 2007. I’d love to know!

My spirits were lifted Friday evening when I went to a Robert’s Snow party hosted by Grace Lin. Most of the Blue Rose Girls were there, including Anna Alter, Alvina Ling, and Libby Koponen. Some of the Robert’s Snow artists were also there to help celebrate: Alissa Imre Geis, Mary Newell DePalma, Rebecca Doughty, Marion Eldridge, and others I didn’t have the opportunity to meet.

From left to right below: Grace's agent Rebecca, Alvina, Grace, Libby, Moi, and Anna

Click here if you’d like to read Grace’s post about the party at her blog.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Robert's Snow Reprise

I’ve had the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on my mind a lot lately. Yesterday, my husband and I received an invitation to join in a celebration of the holiday season and the tremendous success of Team Daisy and the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge. The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge is an annual bike-a-thon that raises money for Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund. My husband was one of the riders for Team Daisy. The invitation included great news about the team. The riders raised $129, 630 this year! And I would like to add that the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge raised a record-breaking $33,000,000 in 2007!!!

Click here to go to the Team Daisy page at the PMC website.

This is my friend Daisy Locke for whom the team was named.

Dana-Farber has also been in my thoughts because of Robert’s Snow 2007. I didn’t win any snowflakes in the first auction. I know that I won two in the second auction. (I might also have won a third snowflake—but I haven’t received notification about that one yet.) And I’ve been bidding on lots of snowflakes in Auction 3!

Here are the two snowflakes I won in Auction 2. One is going to be a Christmas present for someone who is very special to me.

Susan Miller's Snowflake

Carol Schwartz's Snowflake

Here are the snowflakes I won in the 2004 Robert’s Snow auctions:

Gabi Swiatkowska's Snowflake

Susan Kathleen Hartung's Snowflake

Phyllis Harris's Snowflake

Scott Bakal's Snowflake

Here are the snowflakes I won in the 2005 Robert’s Snow auctions:

Diane Greenseid's Snowflake

Phoebe Stone's Snowflake

Betsy Lewin's Snowflake

Gabi Swiatkowska's Snowflake

Sharon Vargo's Snowflake

I gave this one to my daughter as a Christmas present.

I emailed Sharon in early December of 2005 to tell her that I had won her snowflake and was planning to give it to my daughter as a Christmas present. Do you want to know what Sharon did? She autographed a copy of Bessie's Bed and sent it to me so I could give it to my daughter along with the snowflake. I was so touched by her thoughtful gesture!

I love all my snowflakes. They are little treasures. They are also reminders of how I established a close friendship with two very special people—Grace Lin and Robert Mercer.

I am hoping that Robert’s Snow 2007 will be a resounding success. Please help us to raise lots of money for sarcoma research by bidding on your favorite snowflake(s) in Auction 3.