Tuesday, April 24, 2018

FOLLOW THE LEMON DROP ROAD: An Original Poem from an Unpublished Collection


Years ago, I began working on a collection of poems about sweet things. There were two different versions of the manuscript. One included poems just about candy. The other contained poems about all kinds of sweet things--including donuts, pudding, popsicles, a birthday cake.

My good friend Grace Lin and I planned to collaborate on the project. We even took a "investigative field trip" to YUMMIES, a famous candy store in southern Maine where we found hundreds of different kinds of candies--some of which I hadn't seen in decades. You can read about our trip here: How Sweet It Is!: A Poetry Tale.

In 2011, when Grace was out in San Francisco, she spoke with Melissa Manlove, an editor at Chronicle Books. She told Melissa she had a manuscript written by a friend that she wanted to send to her. Grace had planned to send Melissa my manuscript of candy poems. After some thought, Grace decided to send her my THINGS TO DO manuscript. I will be forever grateful to Grace for doing that. My book THINGS TO DO might never have been published if it hadn't been for her! I might never have received a 2018 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor Award or the 2018 Margaret Wise Brown Children'sLiterature Prize.

 
NOTE: I also owe a debt of gratitude to my wonderful editor Melissa Manlove who helped me shape my manuscript into the book it became...and to Catia Chien, the talented artist who created beautiful, dreamy illustrations for my text.

Here is one of the poems from SWEET TOOTH, my unpublished collection of candy poems:

FOLLOW THE LEMON DROP ROAD

A good witch gave me directions to Candyland.

She told me to follow the Lemon Drop Road

Straight past Vegetable Valley

And Eat-It-It’s-Good-for-You Village.

She said to beware of the sugarless not-so-gummy bears

And bitter chocolate bunnies

Who often fool unsuspecting travelers

With their phony sweet talk,

And entice them to eat only healthful foods

Like broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Oh…YUCK!

I’m glad she warned me.

I can’t wait to reach my destination.

 

I must follow the Lemon Drop Road…

follow the Lemon Drop Road

follow the Lemon Drop Road

follow the Lemon Drop Road

follow the Lemon Drop Road…

 ***************
 
Don't forget! I'm giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during April. All you have to do to qualify to have your named entered into next Sunday's drawing is to comment on one of the blogs that I posted during this third week of National Poetry Month (April 22-28). 

 



Sunday, April 22, 2018

And the Winner of THINGS TO DO for the Third Week of National Poetry Month Is...


The winner of a signed copy of my book THINGS TO DO is Brenda Harsham! Congratulations, Brenda! Just email me your address and let me know how you would like me to inscribe the book.

Friday, April 20, 2018

ROOSTER and CHICK: Two Mask Poems




I seem to "default" to the mask poem whenever I begin writing a poetry collection. On Wednesday, I posted four mask poems about spring peepers from an unpublished seasonal collection titled VOICES ALL AROUND ME.
The following two mask poems are the first two verses from another unpublished collection titled FARM TALK, which contains poems written in the voices of farm animals, a few wild animals, and a farmer and his wife. Most of the poems are written in pairs--for example, a mare and her foal, cows and a bull, mother duck and her ducklings, rooster and chick.  

ROOSTER

Cock-a-doodle-doodle-do!
The sun is rising. You should too.
It’s time to wake and shake off night…
To welcome in the morning light.
It’s the dawn of a brand new day.
That’s something to crow about, I’d say!


CHICK

Listen!
Dad’s calling up the sun.
Wake up! Wake up, everyone!
Night is over. Day’s begun.

 ***************

My other postings from earlier this week:



Four Mask Poems about Spring Peepers

***************
 
Don't forget! I'm giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during April. All you have to do to qualify to have your named entered into next Sunday's drawing is to comment on one of the blogs that I posted during this third week of National Poetry Month (April 15-21). 

 ***************
Tabatha has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Four Mask Poems about Spring Peepers


I enjoy writing mask poems. It's especially fun taking on the personality of an animal that I have learned about and speaking in its voice.

 
One of my favorite books of animal mask poems is Marilyn Singer's TURTLE IN JULY, which was beautifully illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. In this book, Singer speaks in a different animal's voice each month--a deer in January, a barn owl in February, a bear in March, etc. She also speaks in the voice of a bullhead fish in each of the four seasons.


 
TURTLE IN JULY and Karla Kuskin's ANY ME I WANT TO BE are the two books that got me hooked on writing mask poems. Unfortunately, ANY ME I WANT TO BE is out of print. You might be able to find a used copy online.  I think TURTLE IN JULY is still  available in library binding. I highly recommend both books!

Last year, I worked on a collection of mask poems told in the voices of familiar animals and plants that takes readers through the cycle of a year. I wrote four poems about spring peepers--one for each season.
Listen to spring peepers at this link:


SPRING PEEPER IN SPRING

Awakened from my winter sleep
And ready to mate—I peep and peep
At night to woo a lady fair.
My heartfelt singing fills spring air.

Above this vernal pool I wait
And eagerly anticipate
That special someone who will be 
The perfect froggy gal for me!
 

SPRING PEEPERS IN SUMMER

The day we hatched from jellied eggs…
We looked like fish. We had no legs.
We breathed through gills. We had no lungs.
We didn’t have long sticky tongues.
We didn’t look like frogs…for sure.
But then we started to mature.
And day by day we changed and grew.
To tails and gills we bid adieu.
Now we have lungs and four fine limbs…
And we can croak
and jump
AND swim!
 

SPRING PEEPER IN FALL

Summer was fun—so full of flies,
Beetles, ants, and sunny skies,
Cricket song…warm, lazy nights,
Dew in the grass and other delights.

But…
Now it is time to find a space
Under a log—a snuggly place
Where I can hibernate till spring
When I will reawake and sing.

 
SPRING PEEPER IN WINTER

Quiet please.
Do not disturb.
Don’t jog this log
While I’m asleep.
I need to get a good long rest.
In spring, I must be at my best!

 ***************
 
 
Don't forget! I'm giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during April. All you have to do to qualify to have your named entered into next Sunday's drawing is to comment on one of the blogs that I posted during this third week of National Poetry Month (April 15-21). 

 

 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

THREE NIGHT POEMS FOR CHILDREN


I worked on a collection of night poems for weeks last year. I could never shape it into what I wanted it to be--even though I tried hard. Sometimes, when I try too hard, my poems seemed forced. I had to put the collection away. Maybe I will work on it again one day. Here are three poems from two different versions of my collection of bedtime poems:

END OF DAY

Sun slid down the western sky

as weary Day bid goodbye.

Then Dark crept in on velvet toes

after sleeping Night arose.



PICTURE WINDOW

My window frames a patch of sky
where I can watch stars passing by
and see the full moon’s beaming face
smile down on me from outer space.

 
CITY NIGHT
When sun has gone,
my city puts her jewels on--
a necklace of electric lights
that glitter and glow.
My city sparkles from head to toe!
***************


REMINDER: I am giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during National Poetry Month. I will collect the names of people who have commented on my blog posts each week in April and put them in a bag. Next Sunday, I will draw a name from the bag of someone who commented on a post that I published during the week of April 8-14.
Drawing dates: April 22, 29, 30.

 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Wild Rose Reader Looks Back: A Belated 80th Birthday Post for Lee Bennett Hopkins.


I had hoped to put together a special 80th birthday post for Lee Bennett Hopkins before I left for  Hattiesburg, Mississippi--but I got sick with a respiratory infection Easter weekend. I was keeping my fingers crossed that I'd get better by April 10th so I could accept my Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor Award at the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Literature Festival. Fortunately, I was fine by the day of my departure--but I never got around to whipping up a birthday post for Lee.

I decided today to post links to some of my previous blogs about Lee and his poetry books. I thought some of you might like to read them.



Here they are--in chronological order:

Party for a Poetry Man (2009)









Poetry for Little Ones: "Lullaby & Kisses Sweet" (2015)


HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, DEAR ONE!!!
 
 
***************
 
REMINDER: I am giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during National Poetry Month. I will collect the names of people who have commented on my blog posts each week in April and put them in a bag. Next Sunday, I will draw a name from the bag of someone who commented on a post that I published during the week of April 8-14.
Drawing dates: April 22, 29, 30.
 

 
 

And the Winner of THINGS TO DO for the Second Week of National Poetry Month Is...

 
The winner of a signed copy of my book THINGS TO DO is Robyn Hood Black. Congratulations, Robyn! Just email me your address and let me know how you would like me to inscribe the book.
 
 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Cutting a Poem from a Manuscript: THINGS TO DO IF YOU ARE NIGHT...or THINGS TO DO IF YOU ARE THE MOON?


Things to do if you are NIGHT was the final poem in my original manuscript for THINGS TO DO. There were three more poems that related to night--one about a teddy bear, one about a nightlight, and one about the moon.  

My editor Melissa Manlove wrote me saying:... we really only need one bedtime poem in the collection... I strongly prefer moon in this case, as it is particularly lovely and makes an excellent end to the book. 

So the "night" poem was cut and the "moon" poem stayed.

Things to do if you are NIGHT

Be the shadow of day.

Put the sun to bed and light the moon.

Rouse sleeping raccoons and owls.

Paint oceans black.

Sprinkle stars across the sky.

Slip softly away before dawn.


Things to do if you are the MOON


Live in the sky.

            Be bold

                        OR

            be shy.


Wax and wane

            in your starry terrain.


Be a circle of light,

just a sliver of white,

            or hide in the shadows

            and vanish from sight.


Look like a pearl

            when you’re brim-full

            and bright.


Hang in the darkness

                        Dazzle the night.

I believe my editor made a wise decision. What do you think?

***************
This week's earlier posts:




REMINDER: I am giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during National Poetry Month. I will collect the names of people who have commented on my blog posts each week in April and put them in a bag. Next Sunday, I will draw a name from the bag of someone who commented on a post that I published during the week of April 8-14.


Drawing dates: April 15, 22, 29, 30.

***************

Robyn has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Life on the Deckle Edge.

***************
And the last thing that I want to do this Friday is to wish "dearest" Lee Bennett Hopkins a
HAPPY  80th BIRTHDAY!!!!!




Wednesday, April 11, 2018

THINGS TO DO IF YOU ARE THE SUN: Cut from My THINGS TO DO Manuscript???

My editor Melissa Manlove suggested cutting my SUN poem from THINGS TO DO during the early stages of our email discussions because, at that point, it didn't seem to be helping with the arc of my "story" written in poems. Later, we added my revised version of it back into the collection after we changed the "small moment of crisis"--a thunderstorm. I kept the beginning of the poem the same--but changed the ending:

My original SUN poem:
Be big
and round
and bold
and bright.
Wear a crown
of golden light.
Keep the planets

in their place.

Be the queen

of outer space.
I changed the ending to this:
Shower down

            warm yellow rays.

Rule the sky

            on summer days.
REMINDER: I am giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during National Poetry Month. I will collect the names of people who have commented on my blog posts each week in April and put them in a bag. Next Sunday, I will draw a name from the bag of someone who commented on a post that I published during the week of April 8-14.
Drawing dates: April 15, 22, 29, 30.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Making THINGS TO DO IF YOU ARE RAIN a Rhyming Poem

My editor Melissa Manlove thought my RAIN poem was "lovely!" Still, she wanted me to revise it. She wrote: ...after 'windowpanes', though, I keep expecting to hear its rhyme in 'drains'... are you sure you don't want that word in there somewhere?  The last three lines feel less powerful to me than the previous ones.  I suggest you confine yourself to the imagery that might reasonably be in front of your main character-- you start getting too far afield at the end.
My original RAIN poem:
Polka dot sidewalks.
Freckle windowpanes.
Roll off rooftops and gurgle down gutter spouts.
Patter around a porch in silver slippers.
Dimple a quiet pond.
Tickle tulips and glisten the grass.
Tiptoe over silken seas.
Look for a lost rainbow.
After revising the poem, the first two lines remained the same--but nearly everything else changed. In addition, it became a rhyming poem.
Polka dot sidewalks.
Freckle windowpanes.
Whoosh down gutter spouts.
Gurgle into drains.
Patter ’round the porch
In slippers of gray.
Tap dance on the roof.
Then…
Go away.
REMINDER: I am giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during National Poetry Month. I will collect the names of people who have commented on my blog posts each week in April and put them in a bag. Next Sunday, I will draw a name from the bag of someone who commented on a post that I published during the week of April 8-14.
Drawing dates: April 15, 22, 29, 30.

Monday, April 9, 2018

THINGS TO DO IF YOU ARE A HONEYBEE : Two Versions


I had to revise several of the poems that were in my original THINGS TO DO manuscript. Some had minor revisions; some required major revisions. One that underwent a major change was the honeybee poem, which had originally been a "worker bee" poem.

Things to do if you are a WORKER BEE as it appeared in my manuscript:

Be yellow and fuzzy.
Stay busy. Be buzzy.
Tidy and clean.

Tend to your queen.
Be a working machine—
A syrup collector.
Go forage for nectar.
Reap pollen from flowers.
Don’t spend idle hours.
Don’t sit and relax.
Make honey and wax.
You must toil without end—
Yours is a lifetime of labor,
My friend.

My editor Melissa Manlove thought the poem was too long. She suggested I keep just the first two lines...and leave the poem at that. I decided to add two new lines to the beginning.

The final draft of Things to do if you are a HONEYBEE:

Flit among flowers.
Sip nectar for hours.
Be yellow and fuzzy.
Stay busy.
Be buzzy.
 ***************
REMINDER: I am giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during National Poetry Month. I will collect the names of people who have commented on my blog posts this second week of April and put them in a bag. Next Sunday, I will draw a name from the bag of someone who commented on a post that I published during the week of April 8-14.

Drawing dates: April 15, 22, 29, 30.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

THINGS TO DO IF YOU ARE A SNAIL: Two Different Versions of a Poem

Here are two versions of my Things to Do If You Are a Snail Poem. The first is the version that was included in the original manuscript that was sent to Melissa Manlove at Chronicle Books. The second is the poem that is included in the published book.

THINGS TO DO IF YOU ARE A SNAIL

 
S  l  o  w  l  y . . . s  l  o  w  l  y . . . take your time.

S  l  i  d  e  along your trail of slime.

And everywhere you chance to roam

Bring along your mobile home.
 
 

THINGS TO DO IF YOU ARE A SNAIL

 
S  l  o  w  l  y . . . s  l  o  w  l  y . . . take your time.

S  l  i  d  e  along your trail of slime.

The wonders of your world are small.

Don’t hurry by.

Enjoy them all.
 
Why did I change the ending of the poem? My editor felt the last two lines needed revising.
 
Melissa wrote to me: LOVE the first two lines. Love the image I get of a child hunched over a snail, getting a good look at this small creature.  The last two lines are not wrong... but don't feel as strong as the first two. They also sound to me like a slightly different voice.  Revise a bit?
 
********************
 
REMINDER: I am giving away signed copies of my book THINGS TO DO during National Poetry Month. I will collect the names of people who have commented on my blog posts each week in April and put them in a bag. Next Sunday, I will draw a name from the bag of someone who commented on a post that I published during the week of April 8-14.
 
Drawing dates: April 15, 22, 29, 30.
 
***************
News of my winning the 2018 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children's Literature made The Boston Sunday Globe:
 

‘Things to Do’ wins picture book prize
The Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature honoring the most distinguished picture book of the year went this year to Massachusetts resident Elaine Magliaro for her dreamy, rhyming debut, “Things to Do’’ (Chronicle), illustrated by Catia Chien. Magliaro is a retired elementary school teacher and former school librarian. She also taught a class on children’s literature at Boston University from 2002-2008. “Things to Do’’ anthropomorphizes everyday objects and events, including boots, an eraser, an acorn, dawn, a snail, scissors, and details the things they do in elegant, unexpected verse.