Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from Wild Rose Reader

My granddaughter Julia and I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I can't wait to see Julia again today...dressed up in an outfit that I bought her for Christmas. Last night she wore the soft red Christmas onesie I got for her.

Julia Anna

Julia on Christmas Eve
with my mother
who is ninety-three years old

I am a most fortunate woman to be able to spend the holidays
with four generations of my family!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Things to Do If You Are Santa Claus: An Original List Poem

The year 2011 has indeed been a great one for me. I became a grandmother--which was truly a thrill! I also sold my first book--a collection of "things to do" poems--to Chronicle Press. I signed the contract in the fall. I thought I'd wait until now to make the announcement.

One of the most interesting things about the sale of my poetry manuscript: I didn't submit it to Chronicle. Grace Lin did. She sent it to her editor there--who liked the collection.

Grace Lin

As the year 2011 comes to a close, I'd to thank two good friends who helped critique and give me suggestions about my "things to do" poetry collection: Janet Wong and, of course, Grace LinI also want to thank my daughter and son-in-law for giving me the most adorable granddaughter in the world!

My Granddaughter Julia Anna

I thought I'd write a special "things to do" Christmas poem to celebrate the sale of my poetry manuscript. I still have to work on the ending. Note: I don't have as much time for blogging and writing now because I spend half the week providing daycare for Julia Anna. She's the gift that keeps on giving!

Things to Do If You Are Santa Claus

Have a big round belly,
Cheeks rosy red.
Wear a furry cap
On top of your head,
A wide black belt
With a buckle of gold.
Live at the top of the world
Where it's cold.
Grow a bushy beard
That's white as snow.
Be jolly and laugh
With a Ho-Ho-Ho!
On Christmas Eve,
Set off on your sleigh
With a red-nosed reindeer
Leading the way
Through a midnight sky
On a chilling night
When a guiding star
Blazes bright.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Dori Reads.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

BABY NEWS: An Original Poem

I often get ideas for poems when I'm taking showers. I just wrote the following poem Baby News in the shower. It was inspired by my granddaughter Julia Anna.

Julia Anna

Baby News
Baby babbles, baby coos.
Baby tells the baby news.
What’s she saying? I don’t know.
I’m sure it’s best I listen though.
I think SHE thinks I understand
Her language so I take her hand.
I babble and I coo and say,
“Thanks for all the news today!”

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Poetry from Wild Rose Reader

I thought I'd post some of my original Christmas poems this Friday.

Wrapped around itself,
Evergreen, fragrant of winter forests,
Adorned with berries, baubles, bells of gold,
Tacked to the front door...
Home for the holidays.

Trimmed with tinsel, bedecked with shiny bulbs,
Ribboned with red satin, strung with bright lights—
Each twinkling like an earthbound star in an
Evergreen sky.

Santa snaps the reins. Red-nosed Rudolph
Leads the team of reindeer this early winter
Eve. Up, up
Into the sky with a cargo of Christmas
Gifts and goodies they rise, weaving through clouds. Can you
Hear the merry jingle of their silver bells?

Candy Cane

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.

Christmas Tree,
silvered with tinsel,
sparkling with shiny bulbs,
twinkling with tiny stars,
breathing out
the scent of forest greenery
into our house for the holidays

Christmas Present
Gussied up
in bright red wrapping,
ribboned with gold—
what is the secret
that you hold?

Things to Do If You Are a Bell

Ride on a reindeer’s harness.
Tinkle in the icy air.
Jingle across milk-white snow.
Sing with a silver tongue.


The Christmas Babka
We watch Babci make the Christmas babka.
With plump peasant hands
she kneads sweet dough

on the white porcelain-topped table,

places it in a large sky-blue bowl,

covers it with a damp towel,

and sets it on the kitchen counter

near the hissing radiator.

Swelling with bubbles of air,

the dough rises into a pale yellow cloud

flecked with bits of orange rind.

The baking babka fills the house

with the scent of Christmas.

We eat the bread fresh from the oven,

its insides steaming and golden—

a homemade treasure
rich enough to warm a winter night.

Christmas Eve

Just after sunset the whole family gathers
in my grandparents’ kitchen.
My father, Uncle Benny, and Dzidzi
bring up the spare table and chairs from the cellar.
Babci spreads white cloths printed with red ribbons
and bright green wreaths over the two tables.
Then she lays out platters of pierogis,
pillows of homemade dough
stuffed with fluffy mashed potatoes and onions
or sauerkraut, a bowl of jellied carp,
pickled herring smothered in onions,
and small dishes of horseradish
tinted pink with beet juice.
Before eating we stand around the table.
Dzidzi breaks the oplatek,
the thin white wafer blessed by the priest.
When everyone has taken a piece,
Dzidzi gives his blessing,
“May we all be happy, healthy,
and together in the year to come.”

Christmas Eve Polka

After dinner
Uncle Benny opens his black instrument case
and lifts out his accordion.
He stretches it open, presses it closed.
We listen to it breathe and sigh.
He straps it over his broad shoulders.
Then he taps his right foot
on the shiny yellow linoleum,
sways from side to side
and makes it sing.
We polka out of the kitchen,
across the tiny parlor,
and down the narrow hallway
back into the kitchen.
Round and round
we dance through the house
making circles of laughter,
making circles of love.


Dzidzi tells us to put on our coats.
He steps off the front porch
and leads us down the stone walk
into the night.
Standing at the edge of his garden,
He looks up at the winter sky.
“There,” he says pointing to Orion’s belt.
“There are the Three Wise Men.
They followed a bright star to Bethlehem.
They journeyed far from home
just as Babci and I did many years ago
when we left Poland to come to America.”
He turns his eyes toward the house,
red lights glowing in the windows,
then gazes at his snow-covered garden.
“Remember this night,” he tells us.
“Remember this place.
Remember all the happy times we have shared here.
Every Christmas Eve look up at the Three Wise Men
and remember.”

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Book Aunt this week.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Board Books for Babies

My granddaughter Julia Anna

Since I'm a new grandma, I've been looking for some Christmas books that I can read to my granddaughter Julia while she is just a wee one. Here are some of the books that I got for my little sunshine recently:

Merry Christmas, Ollie!
Written & illustrated by Olivier Dunrea

Gossie, Gertie, BooBoo, and Peedie the goslings are all waiting for Christmas…I mean waiting for Father Christmas Goose. They all hang their stockings in the barn…and wait. Ollie is not quite as patient. He stomps through the snow and shouts, “I want Christmas!” He stomps to the other goslings and asks, “Is Christmas here yet?” The other goslings assure Ollie that father Christmas Goose IS coming.

When Gossie, Gertie, BooBoo, and Peedie hear father Christmas Goose, they scurry to their nests. But not Ollie. He hops through the snow. He listens. He looks. He waits…and waits—and, finally, Ollie hears the jingling of bells and someone wishing him a Merry Christmas.

Click here to look inside this book.

Get Dressed, Santa!
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Written in rhyming verse, this is a humorous tale of Santa getting dressed before he sets off to deliver presents on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, once Santa has put on his pants and mittens and hat and heads out the door, he realizes that he has to GO— to the bathroom, that is. Then he has to punt down his pack, take off his jacket, and take care of business. Finally, Santa gets dressed and again and lifts off into the sky in his sleigh pulled by reindeer.

Click here to look inside this book.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas
Written by Karma Wilson
Illustrated by Jane Chapman

Bears animal friends wake Bear up so he can enjoy the holiday festivities. They keep Bear busy doing things so he won’t fall back to asleep. They stomp through the woods to get a tree. They pop corn and string it on the tree in Bear’s lair. They bake fruitcake, hang up their stockings, cuddle together and sing songs until a bright star begins to glow. Then all of Bear’s friends doze off and he is the only one who remains awake.

Bear busies himself baking, wrapping presents, and piling up presents under the tree. Bear is so engrossed in his work that he doesn’t even see Santa –who is leaving presents for the forest creatures in their stockings. When Bear’s friends awaken in the morning, Bear shows them what he did while they slumbered. They shout with glee as they open their gifts. Then Wren discovers that Santa has left them presents too. More joy!

Finally, there is one last gift to be opened. It’s something for Bear—a quilt just his size. Bear snuggles up in the quilt and falls asleep once again.

Written in the same rhyming style as the other popular Bear books created by Wilson and Chapman, this light-hearted Christmas tale is sure to charm little ones.
Click here to look inside this book.

Christmas in the Manger
Written by Nola Buck
Illustrated by Felicia Bond
This book about the visitors who came to see the baby Jesus in Bethlehem is written in verse and has spare illustrations. It provides a simple, uncomplicated version of the Christmas story for wee ones.
Here is how the book begins:
I am the star
that shines in the east,
I light the stable
For man and beast.

I am the donkey,
Soft and gray,
I carried his mother
From far away.

Click here to look inside this book.

Baby’s Very First Touchy-Feely Christmas Book
Illustrated by Stella Baggott
Designed by Katrina Fearn

The Christmas objects that babies can touch and feel in this little board book include: a prickly tree, a a shiny present, a fuzzy sack, and a soft stocking.

For Older Little Ones
Christmas in the Mouse House
By Maggie Kneen

This is a charming book with lift-the-flaps and pop-ups. What young child doesn’t love books with these features! I still remember the Christmas pop-up book that I got when I was about five. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it! I still have it today. It’s stored in a bin somewhere in my house.

ReaderTotz has a nice review of this book. Click here to read it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

GIFT TAG: A Present Wrapped Up in Poetry

I spy a present under our tree.
The gift tag says THIS ONE'S for me!
It piques my curiosity.
I shake the box. What can it be?
It whispers, "I'm a mystery."

by Elaine Magliaro

28 holiday poems by 28 poets
an anthology compiled by
Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
photos taken or selected by
Sylvia Vardell

Janet and Sylvia gave the Gift Tag poets three rules:

1) They had to choose a photo from the Gift Tag photo blog,;

2) They had to write about what popped into their minds when they saw the photos;

3) They had to keep their poems short—10 lines (maximum) with no more than 25 characters (with spaces) per line.

After Janet and Sylvia collected all the poems, they supplied the tag: a word and a phrase to connect the poems to each other—sometimes taken from the poems directly and sometimes simply suggested by them. Their goal was to have each poem appear whole on a Kindle screen. They call this form the Kindleku. (Douglas Florian suggested that a better name would be the Kindlekuku.)

GIFT TAG features poems by the following writers:

Jeannine Atkins
Jen Bryant
Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Margarita Engle
Douglas Florian
Helen Frost
Joan Bransfield Graham
Lorie Ann Grover
Avis Harley
David L. Harrison
Sara Holbrook
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Bobbi Katz
Julie Larios
J. Patrick Lewis
Pat Mora
Ann Whitford Paul
Laura Purdie Salas
Michael Salinger
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Charles Waters
April Halprin Wayland
Carole Boston Weatherford
Robert Weinstock
Steven Withrow
Allan Wolf
Janet Wong
Jane Yolen

With permission from Janet and Sylvia, I’m posting four of the poems that are included in the Gift Tag anthology. I’m also providing my own “tags” for the poems—or the reasons why I selected them for this post.

Laura Purdie Salas

Laura: I made gazillions of these potholder gifts as a kid! This picture made me think of neat, close things, like farm crops. But holidays mean family! Tight-knit (ha!) families weave several people together and that’s what my poem is about.

My tag for Laura’s poem: Lots of girls make potholders when they’re young and give them away as gifts. They feel really proud that they’ve created something with their own hands. I still have a handmade potholder that was given to me by one of my nieces more than thirty years ago. It’s yellow, orange, and white.

We Are Woven
by Laura Purdie Salas

Where one loop goes,
Another follows.
No lonely lines.
No empty hollows.
They dance and chase.
They hold on tight.
Like you and me,
They fit just right!

Steven Withrow

Steven: Seeing the sled brought memories of sliding down snow-crusted slopes with my sisters and brother. Once, our parents let us stay out after sunset and moonlight made everything feel alive. My poem uses an Irish verse form: cethramtu rannaigechta moire.

My tag for Steven’s poem: I lived in a city and across the street from an open area owned by a large company. The company allowed kids to sled and ski down its hill when it was covered with snow. I still vividly recall those winter days from my childhood when I’d scoot across the main road with my wooden sled and spend hours sliding down the hill with friends until my hands were nearly frozen and the sun had set.

Night Sledding
by Steven Withrow

Moon-mound snow,
slalom race;
chill bright plumes
frost your face.
runners grip;
twin tracks bite
hill’s white lip.

Robert Weinstock
Robert: We gave my daughter a xylophone. Who could resist the promise of those rainbow bars? For the first 16 or so hours it often sounded quite magical. After that you could understand why the neighbors might sometimes smile like Scrooge.

My tag for Robert’s poem: I laughed out loud when I read Xylophone. It brought back a memory of the Christmas when I was in first grade. My dear Uncle Benny gave me a giant drum with cymbals. I loved banging on the drum, clashing the cymbals together, and making LOTS of noise. I can just imagine how my parents felt about that Christmas gift!

by Robert Weinstock

Seventeen plink
Hours of plinking!
Merry Plink plink–
Spirits sinking.
Eight more plink plink–
Patience shrinking.
Holy plink! What
Were we thinking?

Avis Harley

Avis: I love listening to music. The image of a piano fills me with happy thoughts. It reminds me of the many musical journeys I have experienced and how music opens the imagination.

My tag for Avis’s poem: My older sister made beautiful music when she put her hands on the piano keys. Like Avis, I enjoy listening to music. I must admit, though, that I have absolutely no musical ability…whatsoever. I took piano lessons for one year. It was painful for me—and, I assume, for my family. I think everyone was relieved when I quit taking lessons—especially my piano teacher.

A Musical Gift
by Avis Harley

When fingers travel keys
they talk in melodies,
and stories fill the air
as if a book were there.
Imagination peaks
when the music speaks.
What wonders can be heard
without a single word!

NOTE: Although I’m totally inept at making music with instruments—I do try my best to create music with words.
Click here to look inside GIFT TAG.
Robyn Hood Black has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Read, Write, Howl.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Keep a Pocket in your Poem: Celebrating the Poetry of J. Patrick Lewis

I returned home from the 2011 NCTE Annual Convention in Chicago the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I hit the ground running in order to have everything ready for the Thanksgiving feast at my house. I didn’t have time to write up a post about the convention—or our NCTE Poetry Committee’s celebration of J. Patrick Lewis. Pat is the 2011 recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. I am proud to say that I serve on the committee that selected Pat for this honor!

Pat wrote a poem titled Keep a Pocket in Your Poem that NCTE put on a poster in honor of Pat. Here’s the poem:

Keep a Pocket in Your Poem
By J. Patrick Lewis
Keep a pocket in your poem
Filled with any wondrous thing
You can think of—red hawk feather,
Silver penny, pinkie ring,
Yo-yo, M&M’s, a ticket
To a rollercoaster ride,
Pictures of your pug. A poem
Needs a pocket on the side.

Keep a pocket in your poem
For imagination grows
From the deepest secret pockets
Every pocket poet knows.


A Hippopotamusn’t: And Other Animal Poems. Illustrated by Vicky Chess. Dial, 1988

Earth Verses and Water Rhymes. Illustrated by Robert Sabuda. S&S/Atheneum, 1991

Two-legged, Four-legged, No-legged Rhymes. Illustrated by Pam Paparone. Knopf, 1991

July Is a Mad Mosquito. Illustrated by Melanie Hall. S&S/Atheneum, 1994.

Riddle-Icious. Illustrated by Vicky Chess. Knopf, 1996.

Doodle Dandies: Poems That Take Shape. Illustrated by Lisa Desimini. S&S/Atheneum, 1998.

Riddle-Lightful: Oodles of Little Riddle-Poems. Illustrated by Debby Tilley. Knopf, 1998.

The Little Buggers: Insect and Spider Poems. Illustrated by Vicky Chess. Dial, 1998.

Boshblobberbosh: Runcible Poems for Edward Lear. Illustrated by Gary Kelley. Creative Editions, 1998.

Black Swan, White Crow. Illustrated by Chris Manson. S&S/Atheneum, 1999.

The Bookworm’s Feast: A Potluck of Poems. Illustrated by John O’Brien. Dial, 1999.

Good Mousekeeping: And Other Animal Home Poems. Illustrated by Lisa Desimini. S&S/Atheneum, 2001.

A Burst of Firsts: Doers, Shakers, and Record Breakers. Illustrated by Brian Ajhar. Dial, 2001.

A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme. Illustrated by Alison Jay. Dial, 2002.
Arithme-Tickle: An Even Number of Odd Riddle-Rhymes. Illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz.
Harcourt, 2002.

Swan Song: Poems of Extinction. Illustrated by Christopher Wormell. Creative Editions, 2003.

Freedom Like Sunlight: Praisesongs for Black Americans. Illustrated by John Thompson. Creative Editions, 2003.
Scientrickery: Riddles in Science. Illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. Harcourt, 2004.

Heroes and She-Roes: Poems of Amazing and Everyday Heroes. Illustrated by Jim Cooke. Dial, 2005.

Monumental Verses. National Geographic, 2005

Please Bury Me In The Library. Illustrated by Kyle M. Stone. Gulliver Books, 2005.

VHERSES: A Celebration of Outstanding Women. Illustrated by Mark Summers. Creative Editions, 2005.

Once Upon A Tomb: Gravely Humorous Verses. Illustrated by Simon Bartram. Candlewick, 2006.

The Brothers’ War: Civil War Voices in Verse. National Geographic, 2007.

The World’s Greatest: Poems. Illustrated by Keith Graves. Chronicle Books, 2008.

Countdown to Summer:  A Poem for Every Day of the School Year. Illustrated by Ethan Long. Little, Brown, 2009.

Spot the Plot!  A Riddle Book of Book Riddles. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. Chronicle Books, 2009.
The Underwear Salesman: And Other Jobs for Better or Verse. Illustrated by Serge Bloch. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, 2009.

The House. Illustrated by Robert Innocenti. Creative Editions, 2009

Skywriting: Poems to Fly. Illustrated by Laszlo Kubinyi. Creative Editions, 2010.


Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku. Illustrated by Tricia Tusa. Little, Brown, 2006.

Birds on a Wire: A Renga ‘Round Town. Illustrated by Gary Lippincott. Wordsong, 2008.


Castles: Old Stone Poems. Illustrated by Dan Burr, 2006.

Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers: A Life of Marc Chagall in Verse. Creative Editions, 2011, with original Chagall art.

NOTE: I had hoped to post more of the pictures that I had taken of our poetry celebration for Pat and his work--as well as pictures of other poets and friends that I spent time with at NCTE in Chicago--but I'm away from home providing "nanny granny" services. I hope to return home this afternoon. (I'm glad I wrote this post before I left home on Wednesday afternoon.)


The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Carol's Corner this week.