Saturday, April 30, 2011

And the Winner of BORROWED NAMES Is...

I am happy to announce that mgudlewski is the winner of Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters, which was written by Jeannine Atkins.

Congratulations, mgudlewski!!! Please email me your address. Thanks!

I’ve decided to extend the “final days” of National Poetry Month through Thursday, May 5th.

Final Days of National Poetry Month: April 29—May 5 (Winner announced on May 6th.)

The Wild Rose Reader poetry prize for the “final days” of National Poetry Month will be At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocean Critter Poems, which was written by Leslie Bulion and illustrated by Leslie Evans. You can read my review of the book here. To have your name entered into the drawing for At the Sea Floor Café —all you have to do is leave a comment at any of my Wild Rose Reader posts dated April 29-May 5. (NOTE: If you leave comments at two posts, your name will be entered twice…and so on.)

Note to Previous Winners: I plan to mail all the book prizes out in early May.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Rainbow Hand: Poems About Mothers and Children by Janet Wong

One thing that annoys me greatly is that so many wonderful poetry books for children go out of print in a short period of time. It’s frustrating when there are excellent poetry books that I’d like to recommend to people—but I know that they may not be able to pick up a copy for their classrooms, their school libraries—or for themselves.

A few years ago, Janet Wong decided to use the services of BookSurge to put her book The Rainbow Hand: Poems About Mothers and Children back into print. I was happy to hear that she had done that. The Rainbow Hand, which received a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Honor Award, is a collection of touching—but not sentimental—poems that speak to the relationships between mothers and their children.

The Rainbow Hand: Poems About Mothers and Children
Written by Janet Wong
Illustrated by Jennifer Hewitson

When I asked Janet what had inspired her to write the collection she said: "I wanted to write a book honoring my mom. Andrew was 3 years old and I had just reached the point where suddenly I understood how much she'd gone through, all the work it took to mother me."

Janet’s Foreword from The Rainbow Hand:

I love my mother very much—now. When I was young, I liked my father much more than my mother, and let her know it. Daddy wasn’t busy cooking, too busy to play ping-pong with me. Daddy didn’t rush off to do the dishes, he told stories. He didn’t shampoo my hair, with the water running into my eyes. He never made me clean my room. He was fun.

Now that I am a mother—and not very much fun anymore!—I can see what my mother has done for me. Still, she can drive me crazy the way no one else can. Still, she makes me cry. But each time I wade through my three-year-old’s pile of toys, I wonder how my mother kept the house so clean. Each time I hand the whining little guy a piece of candy, I thank her for giving me a piece of fruit she grew herself.

I hope to follow her in the tradition of great mothers. I am glad I did not become a mother too soon, before I had seen a bit of the world. Now I am ready to walk in her shadow, bright with hope.

The first poem in The Rainbow Hand picks up where the Foreword left off—walking in a mother’s shadow.

From In Mother’s Shadow
By Janet Wong

I walk behind Mother
through the woods
not to touch the poison oak
she points to with her stick.

She sees snakes before
they move.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Isn’t that what mothers do? Lead the way for us, teach us about the world, care for us, watch over us, help provide for our needs? Yet, there are times when we don’t show our appreciation for all our mothers do/have done for us. Janet Wong wrote this tribute to motherhood—which gives us the sour along with the sweet of mother-child relationships…but always with a respectful understanding of the mother-child bond.

In one poem, The Rainbow Hand, Janet writes about how a mother holds her baby in her “strong arms,” runs with her child so a cool breeze will be sent through his toes, makes an umbrella with her arm to protect her child from the rain…

And when lightning
flashes bright,
too bright,
see how she slips her hand
over his eyes,
her fingers curved

like a rainbow hand.

Janet gave me permission to print the full text of my favorite poem in her book—The Gift of Breathing Slow.

The Gift of Breathing Slow
By Janet Wong

The mother
holds her baby
and face to face
gives him
his first gift,
the gift
of breathing


She blows
his hair
like the ocean
flowing in waves
over the shore.

The baby breathes quick
and soft and shallow,
not even enough to make
water ripple.

And so,
the mother tries,
lying warm and still as a summer night,
breathing full as the moon,

in and out,

and soon
the baby is her echo,
breathing slow
and steady and deep—

his breath
a smile
in his sleep.

Is that a lovely poem? It takes MY breath away!

Jennifer Hewitson’s watercolor and scratchboard illustrations are bold and striking—and, like the poems—aren’t fussy. In their simplicity, they convey the emotions and feelings expressed in or the central core of each poem.

Here is something else that Janet wrote about The Rainbow Hand:

When I wrote the poems for The Rainbow Hand: Poems about Mothers and Children, I hoped to write a book that a child (eight or forty-eight) would want to share with a mother, maybe with a mushy little note tucked inside. Not all the poems in The Rainbow Hand are loving and sweet, though, and a few of the poems are even a bit angry at this meat loaf cook who ruins plans and nags about the messy house (as my mother still does). No one drives me crazy the way my mother can, this onion of a mother who makes me cry. But without her, who would I be?

When young readers and their mothers and fathers and uncles and aunts and teachers finish reading The Rainbow Hand, I want them to say, "Yeah, I love my crazy mother, too," as they sit down to write a poem of their own.

Now, I think I should sit down and write two poems before Mother’s Day—one for my mother and one for my daughter. I have another plan in mind, too! I’m going to write a mushy little note to my daughter, tuck it inside a copy of The Rainbow Hand, and give it to her when she has her first child! Won't that be a special gift?


Here is information that Janet provided me with about BookSurge (now called CreateSpace) and eBooks.

"I read an article about BookSurge, a print-on-demand publisher, at the time that my book A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED had just gone out of print. Less than a year later, THE RAINBOW HAND was out of print despite steady sales with all the school visits that I do. I thought about poor Karla Kuskin who, ten years ago, told me with such sadness that only a handful of her books were still in print.

The author of the BookSurge article raved about how easy the process was. EASY: one of my favorite words! All I had to do was send a Word file or even just a copy of the book to scan and—a couple hundred dollars later—my book would be brought back to life, available through, with a 35% royalty deposited in my bank account every month. THE RAINBOW HAND cost a little more for me to resuscitate because it is in full-color, but the process was the same, just a matter of weeks, requiring very little effort on my part, and I had a new listing. I had read good things about the Back in Print program of the Authors Guild, but their royalty was less, and I like the idea of 35%!

I have only two complaints. The main problem, with both books, was that BookSurge would not let me set what I considered an affordable price. They set initial prices of $9 and $13; I was able to negotiate a lower price of a dollar per book, but not more than that. I explained that many more books would sell if we could get the price down to $7, but they wouldn't do it. The second problem is distribution. Many people use, but not everyone; buying the book through other channels is possible but difficult.

BookSurge is now called CreateSpace, but is still affiliated with I haven't brought my other books back to life through CreateSpace as I'm more excited now about the eBook format and the environmentally-friendly aspect of no energy wasted in printing and shipping. By the end of next month, I hope to have GOOD LUCK GOLD, BEHIND THE WHEEL: Poems about Driving and NIGHT GARDEN: Poems from the World of Dreams available in the Kindle store and Nook store. In addition to feeling good about the lack of environmental impact of these eBooks, I'm going to be happy about their affordability; these books will probably be priced at $2.99 or $3.99. The initial investment of an e-reader is $115 or more, but a neat thing that many people don't realize is that you can download free apps at both and that allow you to read an eBook on your phone or regular computer. With the hundreds of free and affordable books in the Kindle store, it's possible to build a pretty substantial eBook library for the cost of 10 regular hardcovers. Of course we still need (and should still buy) our gorgeous hardcovers, but not everyone can afford to buy several dozen new $18 books a year."

NOTE: I want to send a giant-size THANK YOU to Janet Wong and Jennifer Hewitson for all their help!

Over at Blue Rose Girls, I have two original acrostic poems about the month of May.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Opposite of Indifference.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Farm Friends: A Picture Book with Poems & Paintings by Wendell Minor

Would you like to take a young child on a virtual tour of a small family farm? A farm where poems and paintings give you a perfect picture of domestic animals and a country way of life that has been disappearing from our land? Then find a copy of Wendell Minor’s My Farm Friends. Let Wendell be the tour guide on a bucolic book visit that is sure to delight preschoolers.

My Farm Friends

Written and illustrated by Wendell Minor
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011

I asked Wendell if he could tell me what his inspiration was for doing this book. Here’s what Wendell said:

"The inspiration for My Farm Friends was my desire to honor my parents and grandparents who grew up on Illinois farms. When I was young I was often taken to farms, especially in springtime to see the baby animals. In fact, the first book I remember being read to me by my Uncle Andy (who also grew up on a farm), before my Dad came home from the war, was a board book about farm animals and all the different sounds they made...which I delighted in trying to emulate. I am still pretty good at it to this day! Just ask for a few impressions sometime."

Wendell added: “In creating this book I wanted to share the delight of my childhood with a new generation of children, many of whom may not have opportunities to visit a family farm in person.”

Here is a photo that was taken of Wendell with some of his pet chickens on a farm when he was three-and-a-half.

Wendell told me that Grandfather Minor's farm was the Highland Dairy Farm in Naperville, Illinois—and that his mother's family farm was in West Aurora, Illinois. “Unfortunately,” he said, “neither of those farms exist today, erased from time and place, left only to childhood memories.” 

Wendell opens My Farm Friends with a two-page spread of a multitude of farm animals welcoming visitors to their farm:

Welcome to the Farm

All kinds of animals live on the farm
Some live outside, some live in the barn
Furry ones,
feathered ones,
woolly ones too
Some things that they do
Just might surprise you!

Next, we encounter a rooster crowing as the sun is rising.
“Up and at ‘em, fellow creatures.”

Then it’s on to pigs wallowing in the mud.

a billy goat nibbling on a bandanna, a contented-looking turkey,
and other farm animals that are going about their business...

until the day concludes and the creatures are gathered together outside the barn.

Lots of baby animals
live on the farm too
And guess what—
They would all love to have
A visit from YOU!

This would be the perfect book to read to young children before taking them on a visit to a farm. Wendell’s domestic animals definitely have personality and charm. His verses are short and rhyming. I have little doubt that youngsters would easily—and happily—memorize most of them.

The book includes a section titled My Farm Friends Fun Facts where readers are informed—among other things—that goats are actually picky eaters, pigs can’t sweat and like to cool off in the mud, the average cow gives about 8 gallons of milk a day, and a male turkey’s gobble can be heard up to a mile away.

Come join me on a trip to meet My Farm Friends!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocean Critter Poems

At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocean Critter Poems
Written by Leslie Bulion
Illustrated by Leslie Evans
Peachtree, 2011

Leslie Bulion, author of Hey There, Stinkbug!, has a new poetry collection out this year. This time her focus is on a number of “odd critters” that live in the ocean. The aquatic animals she writes about include snapping shrimp, the convict fish, sea spiders, narwhals, krill, and the violet snail.

I asked Leslie if she could provide me with some background information about her new poetry collection. Here’s what she wrote:

My first collection of science poems, Hey There, Stink Bug!, was inspired by a week-long entomology summer course I attended. I've always written poetry, and I've always been interested in science. When I learned about how bugs are these perfect (and in many cases, perfectly diabolical) little packages of evolutionary survival, it occurred to me that poems are perfect little packages, too, with a parallel economy of purpose and expression. So I decided to put the two together. I put myself through an independent poetry study, and then researched insects that were what I consider "juicy science stories". I enjoyed the process so much, that while I was working on Stink Bug I was already filing away information for my next poetry collection. 

I have a master's degree in oceanography, so At the Sea Floor Cafe was the natural next. So much of the ocean environment is unexplored; scientists are making exciting new discoveries every day. I love to read about newly identified critters and new ideas in marine animal ecology and behavior, both in the popular press and in the science journals. In preparation for writing these poems, I amassed a collection of poem topic ideas, from shallow to deep water species, and across the major classes of marine organisms. I started to think about which kind of poetry form might work with which marine creature, and studied poetry forms I hadn't worked with yet to see which ones might be fun to try. So much of this book--as is true with many--is research. Of course, each poem went through many versions, revisions, and tweaks, too--right up until the illustrated manuscript was sent off to the printer!

What were some of the poetic forms that Leslie used when she wrote her “critter” poems? Double dactyl, kyrielle, haiku, cinquain, limerick, triolet, and epigram. Her poem The Leopard Sea Cucumber and the Emperor Shrimp was written for two voices and Upside Down and All Around, her poem about the violet snail, was written in the shape of a snail shell.

Leslie invites readers of At the Sea Floor Café to join in an exploration of the watery world with the first poem, Dive In!

Here’s how it begins:

Let’s visit a habitat shallow and deep,
And boiling hot, where acids seep,
And frigid and pressured and mountainy-steep,
Come explore the sea!

It ends like this:

The ocean is planet Earth’s main attraction,
Yet humans have fathomed the tiniest fraction,
Now we go deeper into the action—
Dive in and see the sea!

The titles of several poems in this collection really piqued my curiosity: Walk Like a Nut (coconut octopus), Hidden in Plain Sight (sea spiders), With Her Eggs Tucked Underneath Her Arms (broody squid), Jellyfishing (siphonophores), and The Invasion of the Bone Eaters (Osedax worms).

The author includes informational prose about the ocean critters along with her poems. Both poems and prose provide readers with interesting factual tidbits about the creatures. We learn about the coconut octopus’s strange way of walking that makes it look like a coconut drifting across a shallow sea—and about the female broody squid who cradles a clutch of two to three thousand of her eggs in a billowing sac between her arms until they hatch.

Party Poppers, the second poem in the book, is a double dactyl. It’s one of my favorites—and a poem that kids are sure to enjoy.

Party Poppers

Bubbledee troubledee
Sponge-dwelling social shrimp
Clack one big claw to make
Trespassers stop.

Causing explosions
Filling the ocean with
Snap crackle POP!

The “party poppers” are actually shrimp that live in warm water. They can clack the bigger of their two front claws together so fast that they shoot out a jet of water that forms an underwater bubble. Leslie goes on to explain: “The bubble collapses with a snap! Predators that come too close can be injured by shock waves. Prey, such as marine worms and small fish, can be stunned or even killed.”

I’d say that’s pretty interesting stuff!

The back matter of At the Sea Floor Café includes a glossary which explains terms like bioluminescent, detritus, marine snow, zooid, and sea snot that most children—and many adults—may not be familiar with. It also includes a Poetry Notes section that provides information about the different poetic forms that readers will find in the book.

The hand-colored linoleum block prints done by Leslie Evans are set against blue and blue-green backgrounds. The illustrations add touches of color and complement the text without distracting from it.

Click here to see two more of the two-page spreads from the book.

At the Sea Floor Café Book Trailer:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Third Week of National Poetry Month 2011 Roundup

Wild Rose Reader

The Miss Rumphius Effect: Poetry in the Classroom

GottaBook: 30 Poets/30 Days

A Wrung Sponge: Haibun-a-Day

Liz in Ink: Haiku-a-Day

The Poem Farm: Poetic Techniques & Idea-Finding Strategies

A Year of Reading: A Poem-a-Day

Check It Out: 30 Days = 30 Students

Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup: Poetry Potluck Series
tracie von zimmer’s poetic pachyderms

Poetry for Children: Poetry Tag

The Great Migration by Eloise Greenfield

Requiem by Paul B. Janeczko

Hear My Prayer by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Peaceful Pieces by Anna Grossnickle Hines

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

Family by Micol Ostow

Orchards by Holly Thompson

Saturday, April 23, 2011

JELLYBEANS & GUMMI WORMS: Two Original Candy Poems

Yesterday, I posted a poem titled Marshmallow Chicks for Easter. Today, I have a couple more poems about candy that children might possibly find in their Easter baskets tomorrow. I posted the jellybean poem previously at Wild Rose Reader. I just finished a draft of my gummi worms poem. I began writing that poem a couple of years ago for a poetry collection about candy. I went back this afternoon and finished it…for now. Changes may be made to it in the future.

Picture by Brandon Dilbeck

Lemon, lime, and tangerine
Cherry, orange, wintergreen
Grape, vanilla, licorice
Any flavor that I wish
Sitting in my candy dish
Every color looks delish!


Gummi worms
Yummy worms
Wiggle in my tummy worms.
Jellied jigglers in my mouth—
I take three bites.
They’re heading south.
Yummy worms
Gummi worms
Wriggle in my tummy worms.
Gooey chewy
Dandy worms
How I love these
Candy worms!

And the Winner of The Underwear Salesman Is...

I am happy to announce that Bridget R. Wilson is the winner of The Underwear Salesman and Other Poems for Better or Verse, which was written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Serge Bloch.

Congratulations, Bridget!!! That is the second poetry prize that you’ve won from Wild Rose Reader.

The Wild Rose Reader poetry prize for the fourth week of National Poetry Month will be Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters by Jeannine Atkins. To have your name entered into the drawing for Borrowed Names all you have to do is leave a comment at any of my Wild Rose Reader posts dated April 22-28. (Note: If you leave comments at two posts, your name will be entered twice…and so on.)

Poetry Book Giveaway Schedule

Fourth Week of NaPoMo: April 22—28 (Winner announced on April 29th.)
Final Days of NaPoMo: April 29—30 (Winner announced on May 1st.)

Friday, April 22, 2011


Hooray! I solved my Blogger problems. I just changed a blog setting from "old editor" to "updated editor." I wish I had figured that out sooner. I would have saved myself a lot of time and frustration.

Here is one of the poems that I wrote for a still-unpublished poetry collection about candy. I haven't made a final decision on the title of the collection yet. Two possible titles: Sweet Dreams and Sweet Tooth.

I thought Marshmallow Chicks would be a good poem to post on the Poetry Friday before Easter.


I hear them peeping
in their package,
Eat me!
Eat me!
I break open
their plastic shell,
hold soft hatchlings
in my hands.
One by one
I savor
a chattering of chicks,
chubby marshmallow chicks
coated with colored sugar.
I lick their bright yellow down
from my fingertips.


Yesterday, I posted several of my original poems with a "springy yellow" theme. Click here to read them.

Over at Blue Rose Girls, I have an original mask poem titled Chick Chatter.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is over at Book Aunt this week.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Theme in Yellow: Original Poems by Wild Rose Reader

I was thinking about bright sunshine and warm spring weather this morning. Then I got the idea to look through the poems I’ve written and see how many had a springy yellow theme. Here’s what I found:


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

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

Shower in the pouring rays
Streaming down on yellow days.


Spring sings with yellow—
Daffodils trumpet the color in a world growing green
Forsythias bushes explode into golden clouds
Dandelions light our lawn like little suns
Daisies flaunt their pollen-powdered faces…
Everywhere I look
Yellow is singing out its bright song.


dipped in sunlight,
dusted with gold—
brassy blossoms
trumpeting their color
in April gardens


One morning
they unexpectedly
burst into bloom
and sprouted gold.
April used her Midas touch
and turned a gray day
into a surprise celebration
for spring.


Sun rubs resting earth
With warm yellow hands…coaxes
Forth petals of gold


A feathered sun
growing in a sky of green,
its spiky corona radiating gold—
one bright star
lighting up our lawn

Of life. Yellow…
Like lantern light,
Like butter on bread, like the yolk of an
Egg, like a nugget of gold…or a
New star born of cosmic dust.

Day’s eye, wide
Awake, standing
In a meadow
Staring at the sky—its bright
Yellow face turned toward the sun.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Treasure Trove of Triolets

April 2011 has been the cruellest month for me in regard to blogging. I’m still having problems with Blogger—and with my Internet connectivity. In fact, I lost my connection to the Internet twice yesterday. It’s so frustrating because I haven’t been able to do all the poetry posts that I had planned to do for National Poetry Month this year. Because of my Blogger issues, it often takes me four or five times as long to publish a post as it had taken in the past. In addition, the text in my posts isn’t usually uniform—and I can’t seem to fix it. This is one of the reasons I haven’t been leaving comments at other people’s blogs much lately. I’m spending so much time just trying to get my own posts published. I’m hoping my Blogger and Internet issues will be solved sometime in the near future.

Now on to my poetry post…
One thing I enjoy about blogging in the kidlitosphere is learning about different forms of poetry and participating in a variety of poetry challenges. A couple of years ago, I attempted writing my first triolet after reading some written by other kidlit bloggers.

The triolet is a poem of eight lines. It has only two rhymes. The endings of lines 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 (A) rhyme with each other—and the endings of lines 2, 6, and 8 (B) rhyme with each other. The first two lines of a triolet are repeated as the last two lines. The first line is also repeated as the fourth line. You, therefore, have to write just five different lines for the triolet.

A—Line 1
B—Line 2

A—Line 1



A—Line 1

B—Line 2

Here is a triolet I wrote about a true life situation a couple of years ago. The triolet seemed the perfect form for the subject of the poem. You can read my original post with that triolet, Dirty Dog!, here.


Dirty, dirty, dirty dog!
Didn’t heed your master—NO!
Thought you’d run into the bog.
Dirty, dirty, dirty dog!
(I rant in my mad monologue.)
You frolicked where you shouldn’t go.
Dirty, dirty, dirty dog!
Didn’t heed your master—NO!

Here’s another triolet I wrote that was inspired by the weather.

No Sun Today

No sun today.
No blue sky bright.
The clouds are gray.
No sun today.
No dazzling rays.
No yellow light.
No sun today.
No blue sky bright.

Here’s a triolet I just wrote today while I was taking a shower:

Washing Dishes
I’ll wash the dishes one more time.
A chore that I must do again.
I’ll clean off all the grease and grime.

I’ll wash the dishes one more time.

I’ll rinse away the oily slime.

I’ll wash the dishes now—and then

I’ll wash the dishes one more time.

A chore that I must do again.

More Triolets

Andromeda Jazmon wrote a lovely Birthday Boy triolet in 2009 when her youngest son turned four. You can read the poem here.

Andi also wrote two end-of-the-school-year triolets for teachers. Click here to read them.

Click here to read a triolet titled In the Museum written by children’s poet Marilyn Singer over at GottaBook. Also at GottaBook, you’ll find Alice Schertle’s Triolets That Trouble My Sleep.

You will find A Duo of Triolets written by poet Julie Larios at her blog The Drift Record.

You can read Laura Purdie Salas’s original triolet Conspicuously Absent here.

Check out the triolets at this post—The Miss Rumphius Effect: Poetry Stretch Results—Triolet.

Click here to read triolets that were written by Sara Teasdale.

Click here to read Triolets in the Argolid by Rachel Hadas.

How Great My Grief
by Thomas Hardy
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee! 
- Have the slow years not brought to view 
How great my grief, my joys how few, 
Nor memory shaped old times anew, 
    Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee 
How great my grief, my joys how few, 
    Since first it was my fate to know thee?

Why not try writing a triolet yourself? Then leave it in the comments or post it on your blog.