Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Scenes from ALA

I traveled down to DC by train on Saturday. I arrived at Union Station around 3:15 pm. It was 100 degrees! Not exactly sightseeing weather. I went to my hotel room, relaxed, and waited for my roommates--Janet Wong and her mother--to arrive.

I call Janet my poetry adviser. She is always there to give me help and advice whenever I ask for it. In addition, she is one of my favorite people in the world. We always have good times when we're together.

Saturday evening Janet and I joined the rest of the Blue Rose Girls and some other folks at Busboys and Poets for dinner.

Here are some of the pictures I took while in DC:

At Busboys & Poets

Alex, Grace, & I

Janet & Alvina

At the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet

Grace & Alvina
Rebecca (Grace's agent), Grace, & Alvina
The Blue Rose Girls
From L to R
Anna Alter, Libby Koponen, Grace, Meghan McCarthy, Alvina, & I

One of the best parts of the "big event" was getting to meet some of my favorite kidlit bloggers in person. It was like greeting old friends. I was so excited! Grace also brought Joyce Sidman over to meet me. Grace knows how much I love Joyce's poetry.

Some of My Blogging Buddies
L to R
Pam Coughlan & Tanita Davis

Laura Salas, Kelly Fineman, & Sara Lewis Holmes

Here I am having a good laugh with Tanita Davis, Laura, & Kelly
Joyce Sidman (one of my poetry idols) with Kelly

Laura & I

And the Best Part of All:
Grace accepting her Newbery Honor Award!!!!!

P. S. The black dress I wore was perfect (You can see some pictures of it here). It was lightweight and comfortable. But the snazzy high heels I wore with it killed my feet. It's a good thing I brought some black sandals along with me. I put them on at the end of the evening.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Things to Do If You Are a Lawnmower: An Original Poem

Two weeks ago, the subject of my Poetry Friday post was grass. I posted a poem by Valerie Worth, an original acrostic, and one of my list poems entitled Things to Do If You Are Grass. Today, I have another list poem about a piece of yard equipment whose roar is ubiquitous during the summertime.


Rev your engine.
Roar across the lawn.
Wake up neighbors
At the break of dawn.
Chew up the green grass,
Spit it out.
Rage and rumble and growl and shout.
Stop your squawking
When your work is done.
Leave the cut grass lying in the sun.
Cool down your motor,
Roll to the shed.
Rest your weary wheels—
It’s time for bed.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by Kim Addonzio entitled "What Do Women Want?"
The Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Art of Irreverence.


I’ll be heading off for Washington DC tomorrow. I’ll be attending the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet at ALA. Grace Lin got tickets for the Blue Rose Girls. I’ll be sitting with them and with my poetry adviser Janet Wong. We BRG will probably be wearing blue roses—just as we did at Grace’s wedding.

My Husband & I at Grace Lin's Wedding
(See the blue rose?)

If you'd like to see what I'll be wearing to the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet, check out my post Three Dresses and a Wedding.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Three Dresses and a Wedding

Some of us Blue Rose Girls (Grace, Libby, and I) have been preoccupied in recent weeks with what we’re going to wear to the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet this coming Sunday.

Grace wrote this post asking for blog readers' advice about three dresses she posted images of at Blue Rose Girls. She wanted their recommendations about which of the dresses she should wear for her big night at ALA.

Then Libby returned a beautiful pink silk dress that Grace had given her some time ago—telling Grace, “It’s perfect for the Newbery Banquet.” Read about it here.

Libby wrote a post about her “obsession” with finding the perfect dress for the ALA event. She posted pictures of a black silk Marimekko cocktail dress and a long emerald green dress (also Marimekko). But she hated the way the green dress—that she had bought on eBay—looked on her. After dress obsessing, Libby came to some conclusions about herself and decisions about what she should/shouldn’t do in the future.

Then there’s me. I had to find two dresses—one to wear to my daughter’s wedding in July and one to wear to the banquet in June. I was so happy when I found what I thought was the perfect mother-of-the-bride dress at a boutique in a nearby town several weeks ago. (I wrote about the dress here and here.) I ordered it in purple and waited for it to arrive.

Note: The dress pictured below is really a lovely deep purple color. I don't know why it looks blue in the photograph I took.

My FIRST Mother-of-the-Bride Dress

Then it was on to finding a dress for ALA. I looked and looked and looked—and finally tried on a style of dress that I never thought would look good on me. Long story short: The black dress looked much better on me than I had expected. I bought it and a short black chiffon evening jacket to wear with it. Both my daughter Sara and my husband liked it better than the mother-of-the-bride dress that I had already bought. Sara told me she thought the black dress was slimming and more flattering to my figure. She decided she wanted me to wear the black dress to her wedding.

The Black Dress

That didn’t leave me with a problem. I had two lovely dresses for two very special occasions. But in the back of my mind I began to think I looked heavier and wider in the purple dress than I did in the slim-fitting black dress. So…I went shopping again to see if I could find a dress that would be more “figure-flattering” than the mother-of-the-bride dress--a dress that I could wear to the ALA banquet. By luck, I found another slim-fitting dress—in purple—in my size. (It was the only dress in that style in the store.) I decided to buy it and get my daughter’s opinion. I tried it on last Sunday for Sara's and my husband's approval. They both liked the third dress best. So I’m wearing THAT dress to the wedding and the black dress to the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet. And the first dress I got is going to have to hang around in my closet—a dress in waiting for another special occasion.

The Third Dress

P.S. I'm not going dress shopping again...for a long, long time!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

How Sweet It Is!: A Poetry Tale

Grace Lin at YUMMIES candy store in Kittery, Maine (2008).

Two years ago, my friend Grace Lin and I came up with what we thought would be a good idea for a poetry collection. We both love sweets—so we decided candy would be a good subject. In early June of 2008, Grace and I headed off to Kittery, Maine. Why Kittery, Maine? Because it’s the home of YUMMIES, a fantastic candy store that has thousands of kinds of candies—some I haven’t seen in stores since my childhood.

As soon as we arrived at Yummies, Grace and I got shopping baskets and proceeded to go up and down the aisles and fill them with all kinds of goodies—including salt water taffy, fireballs, gummi worms and bears, caramel creams, marzipan, butter mints, maple sugar candy, marshmallow cones, candy necklaces, rock candy, red licorice, circus peanuts…. I could go on.
Then we returned to my house for research—tasting the different candies. We thought the shopping spree at Yummies and the candy eating would inspire me to write some “sweet” poems.
I also bought books about candy to read for information. I learned some really interesting things about licorice and marshmallow and candy canes and chocolate. I thought I’d include some of that interesting information in the collection.
My collection of candy poems takes you through a year with sweets. For example, there are poems about a heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine's Day, marshmallow chicks for Easter, toasting marshmallows for summer, licorice for Halloween, chocolate coins for Hanukkah and Christmas.

Here is one of the poems from my Sweet Dreams collection that I thought would be good for posting on a day in June.


Sticky morsels of candy
Wearing waxy suits…
An alphabet of flavors
To tantalize my sweet tooth:
Bubble gum
Double mint


These tasty tidbits of taffy are

Must rest my mandible
For the next round
Of masticating madness.

These are some of the books that I read:

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Two Writing Teachers.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Here & There: June 12, 2010

2010 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature

Kid Authors, Illustrators Send Off the Class of 2010
by Rocco Staino (School Library Journal, 6/9/2010)

BookExpo America 2010: A Children's Books Photo-Essay (Publishers Weekly, 6/4/2010)

Writers Against Racism: Summer Reading Lists For Parents (Bowllan’s Blog at Publishers Weekly, 6/11/2010)

The Elephant in the Room by Elizabeth Bluemle (Publishers Weekly, 6/10/2010)

Publishers, how ivory are thy towers? According to statistics—not to mention a quick glance around any trade show floor—pretty shockingly ivory, maybe along the lines of 98%. The number of publishing, editorial, art direction, sales and marketing professionals of color in our field is tiny, and that’s not good for anybody. This discrepancy between the real world and the publishing world limits the range of books published, the intellectual scope of discussion, and—for the bottom-liners among us—greatly stunts the potential market.

The truth: we in the book trade have fallen shamefully behind our own culture, and our own times. We can remedy that with open dialogue, new paradigms, and concerted effort. And—we have to remedy it. When adults shout racial epithets at our country’s elected leaders, when bullied children are hanging themselves out of despair and shame, when children’s faces in art murals on the sides of schools are criticized for being “too dark,” when racism is still alive and vicious in this country, we can’t politely avert our eyes.

It is our responsibility—as people who create, produce, and distribute the lion’s share of books that reach and teach and entertain children—it is our highest calling to provide written, illustrated worlds that embrace and prioritize all children, books that resemble the playgrounds and classrooms and homes of this country and the rest of the world. And in order to do that, we must open the gates of our publishing houses to a greater variety of voices and cast aside outdated assumptions of what people will or won’t want to read, will or won’t want to edit or publish or sell.

Poetry—The Forgotten Cousin of Story (From the Banbury Cross Children’s Book Shop)

Top Ten Biographies for Youth: 2010 by Ilene Cooper (Booklist, 6/1/2010)

Classics to Read Aloud by Rob Reid (Book Links, June 2010)

The Storyteller’s Voice—A Six Traits Mini-Lesson by Anastasia Suen (Book Links, June 2010)

Preserving the Environment—Books That Encourage Stewardship by Barbara Ward, Deanna Day, and Terrell A. Young (Book Links, June 2010)

Friday, June 11, 2010

POETRY FRIDAY: The Subject Is Grass

Last year, my husband bought one of those old-fashioned push mowers. Recently, I decided to take over the chore of mowing our lawn. I had never liked the gas-powered mower we had years ago—and I had trouble with our electric mower’s cord always getting in my way. But I love cutting the grass with the push mower. It’s great exercise for me--and much less boring than pumping on my exercycle while lifting weights. I do the front lawn one day—and the back yard the next day. I'm a bit obsessive about the way I cut and trim the grass...but our lawn has never
looked better!

With grass on my mind, I give you two original poems—a “things to do” list poem and an acrostic—as well as a favorite poem on the subject by the great Valerie Worth.


Live on a hillside meadow.
Grow tall
and golden as summer sun.
Hide fluffy field mice
and a symphony of crickets.
Welcome wildflowers,
honeybees, and butterflies.
Drink the fallen rain.
Bend and sway
to the rhythm
of the wind
and dance.

Green carpets the ground,
Reaches over the hills, blankets the broad valley,
And across the wide prairie, stalks of tall golden grain
Sway in the wind
Singing the song of the plain.

by Valerie Worth

Grass on the lawn
Says nothing:
Clipped, empty,

Grass in the fields
Whistles, slides,
casts up a foam
Of seeds,

Tangles itself
With leaves: hides
Whole rustling schools
Of mice.

Book Recommendation
All the Small Poems and Fourteen More
Written by Valerie Worth
Illustrated by Natalie Babbitt

This wonderful poetry classic is a compilation of four of Worth’s earlier collections—Small Poems, More Small Poems, Still More Small Poems, and Small Poems Again—and it includes fourteen additional poems. Every elementary teacher should have a copy of this paperback book in her classroom collection.


At Blue Rose Girls: Sticking with the "grass" theme, I have a poem by Robert Wrigley entitled Mowing--which is really about more than cutting a lawn.

Kelly Polark is doing the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The June 2010 Small Graces Auction Has Begun!

Painting by Leo landry

You can now start bidding on an original painting by children's author and illustrator Leo Landry. Click here to read more about Leo and the Small Graces auctions, which raise money for The Foundation for Children's Books program that underwrites author/illustrator visits and residencies in urban schools in the Greater Boston area.

Click here to bid on Leo Landry's painting.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

June 2010 Small Graces Auction to Begin on June 7th

In 2009, the talented and generous author/illustrator Grace Lin donated 11 original paintings to the Foundation for Children's Books to be auctioned on eBay as a benefit for our programs in under-served schools.
Grace Lin
This year, we are fortunate enough to have 12 different illustrators contributing to our "Small Graces" auction. Each month a small, unpublished, original painting will be auctioned on eBay with 100% of the proceeds to support the FCB's author/illustrator visits and residencies in urban schools. Each painting will illustrate a bit of wisdom, a proverb, or a "small Grace."

This month's painting (below), a gorgeous, signed watercolor by Leo Landry with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson--"The sky is the ultimate art gallery just above us"--will be on auction beginning Monday, June 7 through Friday, June 11. (I will post the eBay link on Monday.) For those who find original art from children's books beyond their budget, this is a great way to buy affordable art. Please spread the word and bid!

Leo Landry has illustrated 10 books for children, six of which he also wrote. Before becoming an author/illustrator of these bright and playful books, he was a friendly face to many at the Children's Book Shop in Brookline, MA where he worked for 20 years.

Don't forget:
You can purchase high-quality, hand-signed prints of three of Grace Lin's 2009 paintings online at the Child at Heart Gallery. The cost is $25, they make wonderful gifts, and half of the proceeds will support the Foundation for Children's Books.

Friday, June 4, 2010

DRAGONFLY: An Original Acrostic

I've been blogging "light" lately. I've had lots of things to do. Recently, I got a ton of wonderful children's books for a baby shower that my daughter Sara and I are going to on Sunday. Wednesday evening, my husband and I celebrated his birthday with Sara and her fiance. (We had Beijing duck, maki, tempura.) I went shopping and found a beautiful pink suit for my mother to wear to Sara's wedding. Yesterday, I picked up my mother-of-the-the bride dress. I also went to the bridal shop with my daughter last night when she got her gown "bustled." Later, Sara came to my house for dinner.

Here's the dress I'm wearing to Sara's wedding.
I got it in purple.
Here are the shoes I got at Macy's on sale recently.
I hope I can walk down the aisle
in them without spraining an ankle
or falling on my face!

I haven't had much time for writing poetry book reviews or extensive posts about poetry--so here is another poem from my unpublished collection Spring into Words: A Season in Acrostics:

Down here in the pond, I’ve waited for months…years,
Remained a nymph.
At last the season has come for me to
Grow wings, to shed the shell of childhood.
Onward and upward!
Now I’m ready to emerge
From my watery world, to
Look to the future…the blue sky above, to leave all my
Yesterdays behind.

At Blue Rose Girls, I having a poem by Jenny Joseph entitled WARNING--which begins: When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.
The Poetry Friday Roundup is over at The Cazzy Files.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Blogroll Update

I have been meaning to update my blogroll for a l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g time! Here are the poetry-related blogs I just added today.

Sara Holbrook’s Blog
Michael Salinger’s Blog
My Juicy Little Universe (Heidi Mordhorst’s Blog)
David L. Harrison’s Blog
Father Goose (Charles Ghigna’s Blog)
Random Noodling (Diane Mayr’s Blog)
The Poem Farm (Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Blog)
Rebecca’s Writing Journey
Teach Poetry K-12 (Laura Evans)

Note: I had the great pleasure of meeting Sara Holbrook, Michael Salinger, and Heidi Mordhorst at the NCTE Convention in Philadelphia last November. I meant to add their blogspots to my blogroll more than six months ago. Talk about procrastination!!!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

JUNE: An Original Acrostic

We had the most beautiful weather this past Memorial Day weekend. It was sunny, dry, and warm. I did yard work, sat outside on my back deck and read, and visited with one of my nieces on Saturday and Sunday. (My husband and my niece's family were up in Maine.) I brought dinner to my niece's both days. We couldn't sit outside on Saturday and eat the eggplant lasagna that my husband had made before he left because of the pesky mosquitoes. It was breezy on Sunday...so the little bloodsuckers weren't around to annoy us as we sipped mojitos and ate homemade lobster rolls. YUM!!!

Here's an acrostic to welcome the new month:

Just as spring grows weary, Mother Nature
Ushers in a brand
New season of sun and fun.
Everyone cheers for summer and the end of school.