Sunday, March 30, 2008

In Celebration of National Poetry Month

April 1st is nearly here. The first day of April is not only the beginning of National Poetry Month—it’s also the first blogiversary of Wild Rose Reader! It’s hard to believe that I launched my solo blog one year ago—on April 1, 2007. I’ve been thinking of ways to celebrate both poetry month and my blogiversary.

Last year, I posted an original poem-a-day through the month of April. I don’t know if I’ll be doing that this year. I really need to focus on polishing my poetry manuscripts and sending them out to publishers. I had planned to do that last summer—and then my computer hard drive crashed. I let my attention wander elsewhere. I need to put my poetic nose to the grindstone once again and get back to writing poetry for publication—and not just for my blog. I hope you’ll understand.

National Poetry Month at Wild Rose Reader

Here are some of the things that I do hope to be posting and blogging about during the month of April:

  • Interviews with children’s poets
  • Poetry book reviews
  • Recommendations of teacher resource books about writing poetry
  • Thematic lists of poetry books that could be used across the curriculum
  • I Am Looking for a Poem about…
  • Original poems (not every day)

I will also be giving away children’s poetry books to blog visitors who leave comments at my posts during the month of April. Here’s the schedule for the children’s poetry book drawings:

Schedule for Poetry Book Drawings

Sunday, April 6th: For comments left from April 1st-5th
Sunday, April 13th: For comments left from April 6th-12th
Sunday, April 20th: For comments left from April 13th-April 19th
Sunday, April 27th: For comments left from April 20th-26th
Thursday, May 1st: For comments left from April 27th-30th

From The Academy of American Poets

Poem-A-Day: Would you like to receive a poetry email every day during the month of April from The Academy of American Poets? Click here to sign up.

Celebrate the first national Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 17th. Click here for information. Click here for some Poems for Your Pocket.

From Wild Rose Reader

Resources for National Poetry Month

Friday, March 28, 2008

Poetry Friday: Tanka

Here are the poems I wrote for this week’s Monday Poetry Stretch--Tanka at the Miss Rumphius Effect. My first attempt follows the traditional form of tanka and has thirty-one syllables. Each of the next two tankas has twenty-one syllables.

Three Tanka
by Elaine Magliaro


Now that winter has
left, an eager sun brightly
blares its yellow song…
waking tree buds and flowers.
Spring enters, waves its green wand.


Newly hatched,
caterpillars feast
on milkweed…
munch leafy lunches
until their sides split.

pierce the softening
soil, push up
purple periscopes,
search for spring’s warm face.

You can read the rest of the Poetry Stretch Results here.



Written by Myra Cohn Livingston
McElderry, 1997

Unfortunately, this poetry book is now out of print. Look for it in the library—or get yourself a used copy…if you can find one. Cricket Never Does is a collection of seasonal haiku and tanka written by one of America’s most respected children’s poets and anthologists. The book includes five fine examples of tanka written by a master poet.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have Anthem for a Doomed Youth by Wilfrid Owen.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Cuentesitos this week.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Book Lists: Thinking Spring

Here are some more book lists for you. Some of the lists have a focus on spring and growing things.

From the National Council of Teachers of English—Children’s Literature Assembly: 2007 Notable Children's Books in the English Language Arts

Outstanding International Books 2007 (Kathleen Isaacs—School Library Journal, 2/1/2007)

The Children’s Book Council Bimonthly Showcase for March & April 2008: Earth Day—Exploring the Natural World

Children's Books for Garden and Plant Lovers
(A Notes from the Windowsill annotated bibliography by Wendy E. Betts.)

From the Miss Rumphius Effect (March 2007): A List of Books about Seeds and Growing Things

From The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books: Spring Will Come—A Hopeful Seasonal Dozen (Selected by Deborah Stevenson, Editor)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Poetry Friday Roundup

I’m doing the Poetry Friday Roundup this week…the old-fashioned way. Just leave a short note and the URL of your poetry post in the “comments.” I’ll be adding links throughout the day.


I’m gearing up for National Poetry Month with a post of poetry resources for teachers, homeschoolers, and poetry lovers here at Wild Rose Reader.

I’m celebrating the female gender with Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman at Blue Rose Girls.

Tricia’s thinking Spring at The Miss Rumphius Effect with two of her favorite seasonal poems: Spring by Gerard Manley Hopkins and The Enkindled Spring by D. H. Lawrence.

Stacey has a poem about Purim at Two Writing Teachers.

Suzanne is sharing Ezra Pound’s Goodly Fere as her Good Friday Offering at Adventures in Daily Living.


Poet Cloudscome participated in Tricia’s Monday Poetry Stretch this week. She has a lovely photograph and an original terza rima poem about daffodils at A Wrung Sponge.

Jama Rattigan joins the roundup with two poems about writing poetry by John Brehm and Lloyd Schwartz.

Cheryl Rainfield has a touching original poem for us about the gifts books give us.

Sarah is celebrating spring today with Christina Rossetti’s poem Quiet Spring at In Need of Chocolate.

Writer2b has a special post for Good Friday with a painting by Jean-Leon Gerome and a poem and a passage by Wendell Berry.

Sara join the Poetry Fiday posters with Gerard Manley Hopkins’ sonnet Carrion Comfort at Read Write Believe.

At the Book Mine Set, John Mutford has a review of Polar Bear, Arctic Hare, a children’s poetry book that was written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes.

Ruth also turns her thoughts to Good Friday with George Herbert’s poem Death at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town.

At Poetry for Children, Dr. Sylvia Vardell has a post about poetry and science, which is also featured in her March Book Links article.

Betsy Bird, of A Fuse #8 Production, has a round-up of three great children’s poets that recently visited the NYPL. Lucky lady!!!

Laura Salas, one of the kidlitosphere’s poetry mavens, is in with 15 Words or Less poems and two poems by the talented—and prolific—J. Patrick Lewis.

Michele, at a Scholar’s Blog, has joined the roundup with “a little” Howard Nemerov…and a brief rant!

Sam Riddleburger has some Librarian Poems that he claims are short and nasty. What do you think?

MsMac has posted poems from her collaborative unit on weather. Do check out these poems written by second graders at Check It Out!


(Sorry for the delay. I had trouble with my Internet connection for some time today. The man from Comcast was working here. Add to that—the Roto-Rooter man was also here and had a devil of a time unclogging my kitchen drain. I’ve fallen behind not only with my Poetry Friday blogging—but also with all the cooking and baking I have to do for Easter.)

MmeT has a poem about peonies and rekindled love at Destined to Become a Classic.

Teacher Terrific Mary Lee decided to “sleep in” on this first day of her spring break. Her choice for this Poetry Friday is a celebration of spring at A Year of ReadingThe Tables Turned by William Wordsworth.

At Kid Lit(erary), Laurel has poetry by Tomaz Salamun…a Slovenian poet that she loves, loves, loves!

Eisha’s doing the “poetry thing” this week at 7-Imp. Here’s the title of her post: Confluences come when they will…or how to get from Lucinda Williams to the Siege of Leningrad in a single post.

Marianne Nielsen has a poem by Ellen Obed Bryan from her book Wind in My Pocket.

Tadmack’s in today with—what she calls—a dubious Spring poem by Christina Rossetti at Finding Wonderland.

Alkelda the Gleeful, a resident of the Pacific Standard Time Zone, has a hymn for Good Friday called I Bind My Heart This Tide, by Laughlan M. Watt, at Saints and Spinners.

At Becky’s Book Reviews, Becky has a poem entitled On Stage from Karen Hesse’s book Out of the Dust.

And at Little Acorns Treehouse, Jenny has Francis Scott Key’s Defence of Fort McHenry (The Stars and Stripes Forever).

Little Willow’s got a poem for us entitled Entrance by Dana Gioia at Slayground.

Liz Scanlon’s up with a poem by Kaylin Haught about saying YES!!! at Liz in Ink.

Kelly Fineman has poems for the Easter season at Writing and Ruminating.

The other Kelly—of Big A, little a fame—has Maya Angelou’s California Prodigal for her “California edition” of Poetry Friday.

Tiel Aisha Asari of Knocking from Inside has a seasonally appropriate selection, Spring Hat, which she wrote for Tricia’s Monday Poetry Stretch this week.

Today, at Literary Safari, Sandhya Nankani is featuring Corona, Queens, which was written by Bushra Rehman.

There’s a poem about adoption by Fleur Conkling Heyliger at A Little of This, A Little of That.

(NOTE: The kitchen drain has cleared...much of the liquid that leaked from the kitchen onto the basement floor is now being sopped up with old towels and newspapers. My lower level has the aroma of aging bouillabaisse.)



MotherReader thinks she’s in the “Lazy-ass edition” of the Poetry Friday Roundup. Not so, not so! She’s got a tasty tidbit for an afternoon nibble with her Mother Goose book rhyme and review.

A. Fortis is in the roundup, too, at Finding Wonderland with a poem by Gillian Wegener entitled Point of Departure.

Anastasia Suen joins the poetry posters with information about an illustrated version of William Wordsworth’s poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud at Picture Book of the Day.

At Charlotte’s Library, Charlotte’s got a review of Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures, a collection of poems written by Julie Larios and illustrated by Julie Paschkis. Julie and Julie are the creators of the highly acclaimed Yellow Elephant. This second collaboration is a winner, too!

Over at The Reading Zone, you’ll find Wild Geese, a poem by Mary Oliver.

Gearing Up for National Poetry Month 2008

Edited to Add: Here's is a link to my updated list of resources for National Poetry Month, which I posted on March 3, 2009.
Resources for National Poetry Month

Here’s an updated version of a Blue Rose Girls blog I posted for National Poetry Month last year. It includes links to websites with poetry resources for children, teachers, homeschoolers, and anyone else who happens to be a poetry lover like me.



Celebrate Poetry…all year long!: Find some great poetry ideas for teachers from award-winning poet Kristine O’Connell George

Favorite Poem Project’s Poetry Lesson Plans and Projects: Find ideas for poetry activities developed by teachers who participated in the Summer Poetry Institutes for Teachers, which were sponsored by Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project and the Boston University School of Education.

Representative Poetry Online from the University of Toronto: This site includes more than 3,000 English poems by 500 poets, a glossary of poetic terms, and a link to the Canadian Poetry website.

Teach Now! National Poetry Month (From Scholastic): Here you will find a wealth of poetry ideas and resources under the following headings: Poems and Classroom Activities, Poetry Writing Workshops and Events, and Poetry Resources.

Poetry Resources: Tricia Stohr-Hunt provides links to more than two dozen websites with poetry resources at Open Wide, Look Inside, her blog about using poetry and children’s literature across the curriculum.

April Is National Poetry Month! (From Read Write Think): Includes links to poetry lesson plans and other resources.

Tips for Teachers from the Academy of American Poets: Includes creative suggestions for helping to make poetry a more integral part of school life during April and throughout the year.

From the Yale New Haven Teacher Institute: Three Entire Curriculum Units for Teachers

From the Children’s Book Council


From the Children’s Book Council: Lists of Children’s Poetry Books from 1999 to the Present


From the Children’s Book Council

Good Poetry for Trying Out Loud by Sylvia M. Vardell, Ph. D. (Sylvia served on the Cybils poetry-nominating panel. Visit her blog Poetry for Children.)

From The Horn Book Website: The following articles appeared in the May/June 2005 Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Poets & Poetry.

I highly recommend ordering the May/June 2005 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. It not only includes articles about poetry—it also has poems written by Douglas Florian, Mary Ann Hoberman, Eloise Greenfield, Nikki Grimes, George Ella Lyon, Marilyn Nelson, David Greenberg, Kristine O’Connell George, Ron Koertge, Paul B. Janeczko, Marilyn Singer, Walter Dean Myers, Alice Schertle, Constance Levy, Betsy Hearne, Karla Kuskin, Jane Yolen, Janet Wong. It’s like a mini poetry anthology for children.



The Academy of American Poets

I'm doing the Poetry Friday Roundup this week. Leave a brief note and the URL of your poetry post here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Jarrett J. Krosoczka at Boston College

The Foundation for Children’s Books
Conversations with…Author/Illustrator Series Presents


WHEN: Tuesday, March 25, 2008
WHERE: Walsh Hall at Boston College
TIME: 7:30 p.m.

Author/Illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka has been making books since the 3rd grade--fun, fresh books featuring vivid characters, be they animal or human. His picture book Punk Farm, the raucous story of a farm-animal band, is being developed as a feature film by Dreamworks, and the band gets loose in Punk Farm on Tour. His other picture books include My Buddy, Slug; Max for President; and Bubble Bath Pirates.

Moderator: Patricia Keogh, retired children's librarian and teacher of children's literature at area colleges.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Book Trailer: Greetings from Nowhere

Sit back, relax, and view this book trailer for Barbara O’Connor’s latest work of fiction for children, Greetings from Nowhere.

Book Review: Julia Morgan Built a Castle

Who was Julia Morgan? She was the architect who designed and oversaw the building of William Randolph Hearst’s castle in San Simeon, California. This picture book biography is about a young woman with a dream—a woman who was to become the first female to receive a certificate in architecture from the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the first licensed woman architect in California.

This is a book especially recommended for sharing with students during Women’s History Month.

Written by
Celeste Davidson Mannis
Illustrated by
Miles Hyman
Viking, 2006

Julia’s Early Life

Julia Morgan was born in 1872 and raised in Oakland, California. Her father was an engineer who “enjoyed taking the family on tours through construction sites” in San Francisco. To Julia, the buildings seemed like “huge puzzles”—and she “wanted to know how everything fit together.” Sometimes her family visited her cousin Pierre LeBrun in New York. LeBrun was an architect. He designed the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower, one of the first skyscrapers constructed in Manhattan.

It would seem these early experiences must have inspired Julia’s dream of becoming an architect some day. There were no schools nearby that taught architecture so Julia studied engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. She was the only female in her class. There was much to learn and think about: the effect of earthquakes, wind, and gravity on buildings; how to anchor buildings securely to the ground; how beams and columns carry weight; when to use particular types of building materials.
Bernard Maybeck, Julia’s favorite teacher, helped her with math and with putting “the pieces together.”

Maybeck was also an architect. Like Julia’s cousin Pierre, he had studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, which was considered “the greatest school of architecture in the world.” Julia went to work for Maybeck after her graduation in 1895—but she still longed to become an architect herself. She wanted to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, too. Unfortunately, the school did not admit women. When Julia heard word that the school might soon accept female students, she packed her luggage and headed for France.

Julia did not get her wish…right away. The school wouldn’t even allow her to take the entrance exam. That did not deter this determined young woman. She studied for the test anyway. She learned to speak and write in French. She visited museums and palaces and Gothic cathedrals.

Then, more than a year after Julia had arrived in France, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts decided to let her take the entrance exam. In fact, she was required to take it three times! She was finally accepted into the architecture program in the fall of 1898. In 1902, she became the first woman to receive a certificate in architecture.

Julia returned to the United States and opened an “atelier” in San Francisco. One of the commissions she received was from Mills College to design “a lofty bell tower” for the school’s campus. Julia used steel-reinforced concrete in hopes of making it “strong and resistant to fire.” Some doubted the young woman knew what she was doing. They thought building the tower according to her specifications would be too expensive. The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 proved that this woman knew exactly what she was doing. Many of the city’s buildings were reduced to rubble—but not the bell tower. It remained standing—as did all of the other buildings she had designed.

The Castle at San Simeon

In 1919, William Randolph Hearst asked Julia to design a home for land he owned in the Santa Lucia Mountains—a place where he and his family camped in summer. Hearst was delighted with Julia’s plans for his property; a large main house on top of the highest hill, three smaller guesthouses, lush gardens, and a walkway. Much had to be done to prepare the site—including leveling the top of the hill with dynamite. So many workers and artisans were needed at San Simeon, that dormitories had to be built for them—and cooks hired to feed them.

The castle at San Simeon was years in the making. Hearst sometimes made changes. “Once Mr. Hearst had a chimney torn done and moved, then torn down again and put back exactly where it was to begin with.” There were additions to the original plan: a movie theater, an airstrip—and even a zoo!

During the twenty-eight years Julia spent working on Mr. Hearst’s dream home, she also completed projects for other clients. But, as the author writes in the last sentence “the castle Julia Morgan built tells her story to this day.”

An Author’s Note includes further information about Julia Morgan. Some interesting facts about the castle and the rest of the property are provided in a sidebar entitled More about San Simeon.

Miles Hyman's soft-edged, colorful illustrations have an impressionistic look. They're lovely and a fine complement to Mannis's biography of a women, who during her lifetime, designed nearly eight hundred buildings--including a majestic showplace that stands as a symbol of her creativity and talent.

Learn More about Julia Morgan and the Hearst Castle

More about Julia Morgan from the Hearst Castle Website

Hearst Castle—La Cuesta Encantada

Hearst Castle Facts and Stats

Monday, March 17, 2008

Patience Wright:America's First Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy

Written by
Pegi Deitz Shea
Illustrated by Bethanne Anderson
Henry Holt, 2007

Patience Wright is an excellent picture book biography to share with children’s in the upper elementary grades (3-6)—especially during Women’s History Month.

Patience Wright was born in 1725. She lived at a time in American history when women rarely had careers…a time when women were expected to marry and raise families…and be dutiful wives. Patience was fortunate to have been born the daughter of two Quakers. Quakers “believed women should have rights and education equal to men’s.”

As a young girl, Patience showed a talent for sculpting clay. She married at the age of twenty-three—later than most women of the eighteenth century. Her husband, who was much older than she, did not approve of her art…or her independent ways. He left her no money when he died in 1769. Patience decided she would have to support herself and her children with her art.

With financial help from a friend, Patience and her sister Rachel opened their own studio in Philadelphia. From wax, they made three-dimensional framed portraits, busts, and lifelike sculptures of people. Patience later moved to England and set up shop. Members of the English royalty became her customers. She was even invited to Buckingham Palace in 1773 to sculpt wax busts of the king and queen. But 1773 was also the year of the Boston Tea Party. American colonists were beginning to revolt against England. “Patience found herself in an interesting position to learn and pass on secrets to colonial leaders.” She tricked members of Parliament and military officers into revealing secrets.

Around this time, the British began watching Americans who lived in England. As the two countries approached war, the British intercepted their written communications. Some Americans were even jailed. How would Patience be able to send the information she had gathered back to the colonies? She used her art. She hid messages inside hollow busts and sent them to her sister Rachel. Rachel then sent the messages along to members of the Continental Congress and to other patriots.

The English were suspicious of Patience. It may be that informants fed her false information. Not all her messages may have been accurate—it may be that information she sent didn’t reach the intended people at the right time. Patience soldiered on in England, helping to free and shelter Americans who had escaped imprisonment.

In 1784, after the Revolutionary War had ended and the Treaty of Paris had been signed, George Washington wrote Patience to tell her that he would be honored to have her make his wax portrait. She never got the opportunity. She died in 1786…before she could sculpt the president in person. Only one of Patience’s wax sculptures is still in existence today—a life-size figure of William Pitt that stands near his crypt in Westminster Abbey. One of Patience's children, her son Joseph, did paint a portrait of George Washington and design America's first coins.

In the back matter of the book, there’s an author’s note with additional information about Patience Wright. The book also includes a bibliography and a time line with important dates in Patience’s life and pivotal events in American and British history during her lifetime (1725-1786).

Anastasia Suen has the Nonfiction Monday Roundup at Picture Book of the Day.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Out & About: March 16, 2008

Note to Blog Readers: I have finally added a blogroll to Wild Rose Reader. I meant to do it long ago. I finally sat down last Friday and did it! I’ll be adding more blogs to the roll from time to time. I do want to take this opportunity to thank all the bloggers who have included Wild Rose Reader on their blogrolls.

NPR (From WBUR in Boston): Robert Frost Lectures Find Fresh Audience. Listen to Robert Frost talk about poetry. All Things Considered, March 7, 2008 · “Poet Robert Frost gave a series of informal lectures at Dartmouth College in 1947. Transcripts are now being published, using recordings that were in college's archives for decades.”

NPR (Morning Edition, March 3, 2008): Unapologetically Harriet, the Misfit Spy by Neva Grant. Hear Anita Silvey and Kathleen Horning talk about Louise Fitzhugh’s book that was published in 1964.

New York Times (March 2, 2008): Pushing for the Last Word to Be Against Censorship, an article by Robin Finn

Children’s Book Council’s Bimonthly Showcase (March-April 2008): Earth Day—Exploring the Natural World

Poetry Friday has been around the kidlitosphere for quite some time. In late January, Anastasia Suen instituted Nonfiction Monday, which she hosts at her blog Picture Book of the Day. Thanks, Anastasia! I recommend stopping by her blog on Mondays to check out all the great children’s nonfiction books bloggers are writing about.

Note: I don’t participate in Nonfiction Monday every week—but I have twice to date. Here are links to my Nonfiction Monday posts:

Nonfiction Monday: George Washington’s Teeth. This humorous book written in verse about the problems our first president had with his teeth is a great one to read aloud to young children. The book includes an extensive and informative timeline of George Washington’s life and his tooth troubles.

Book Review: What To Do About Alice? This is a picture book biography about Alice Roosevelt Longworth written by Barbara Kerley. The book’s subtitle will give you a flavor of this informational book that would be lots of fun to read aloud to young children: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Welcoming Spring...with Poetry

A lot of people searching for acrostic poems on the Internet have visited Wild Rose Reader. As the vernal equinox will soon be upon us, I thought I’d post two original spring acrostics from my unpublished collection of poems What’s in a Word?. I also have some recommendations for spring and seasonal themed poetry books and picture books in verse.

By Elaine Magliaro

Soft, scented breezes, kite-catching winds, the

Pitter patter of warm rain on the

Roof, daffodils and daisies and lilacs

In bloom, apple trees wearing snow-white crowns.

Now the sun lingers at the edge of day and

Green…lovely green…has come home to stay.

Written by Stephen Schnur
Illustrated by Leslie Evans
Clarion, 1999

Stephen Schnur has written a series of seasonal alphabet acrostic books. All four of the books were illustrated by Leslie Evans. Evans’ pictures for Spring, which were executed in hand-colored linoleum cut blocks, are bright, colorful, and complement the thematic spring poems. In fact, the acrostics and illustrations work together well to celebrate this season of renewal.

The book begins with a poem about April: After days of/Pouring/Rain, the last/Ice and snow finally/Leave the earth. The illustration that accompanies this poem shows a close-up of purple crocuses blossoming on a background of black earth and melting snow. The book ends with the poem Zenith, which tells of zucchinis and eggplants greening as summer finally arrives and the sun is high overhead.

Other words for which Schnur wrote poems for this ABC acrostic collection include buds, grass, hopscotch, kites, May, nest, outside, and seeds.

Here is an example of another of the book’s acrostics:

Nestled under the
Eaves, a
Song-filled ark of
Twigs and grass.

Classroom Connection: It might be fun to write some collaborative class acrostic poems about the sights, sounds, and signs of spring. First, start by eliciting responses from students a list of “spring” words the class could use for writing acrostics. Some examples: buds, blossom, robin, green, showers (rain), flowers, frogs/spring peepers.

NOTE: See my post A Poem a Day #11 for a step-by-step procedure for writing collaborative acrostics with your students/children. The post also includes a review of Silver Seeds, a fine book of acrostic poems, which was written by Paul Paolilli and Dan Brewer and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

Here’s another example of an acrostic I wrote for spring:

By Elaine Magliaro

Coming up, I’m coming up,

Reaching through the softening soil, poking my petals

Out of the earth,

Collecting sunlight in my purple cup.

Up, I’m coming up.

Spring is on the way!


Written & illustrated by Douglas Florian
Greenwillow, 2006

Handsprings is a great poetry book to have on “hand” in the classroom at this time of year. Florian’s poetry in this collection is typical of his work. The poems are bouncy, energetic, rhythmic, rhyming…and full of wordplay. The collection begins with a few poems about saying goodbye to winter and comparing the coldest season to spring. In Winter and Spring, Florian writes: Winter’s cold and dark and sneezy./Spring is cool and bright and breezy. The book abounds with list poems: Growing, Handsprings, Spring is When, What I Love about Spring, What I Hate about Spring, The March Wind, Spring, Ten Things to Do When It Rains, Spring-Cleaning, Spring Is, Spring Berries, Green Scene, May, Fresh Spring, and Nature Walk.

Here’s an excerpt from the list poem Handsprings:

Spring is great
For growing grass.
Spring has zing
And spring has sass.
Spring is super.
Spring is spry.
Spring is when
Things start to fly.

The list poems in Handsprings could serve as inspiration and fine examples for some collaborative class list poems about spring.

Written by Miriam Chaikin
Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata
Henry Holt, 2002

Don’t Step on the Sky would be a good collection of haiku poems to share with children at this time of year. Not all the poems speak specifically about spring—but there are poems about birds, plants growing, a rushing brook, and rain.

You can read a review of this book that I wrote for Blue Rose Girls in my post Poetry Friday: Happy Haiku to You.


Written by Jan Carr
Illustrated by Dorothy Donohue
Holiday House, 2001

Illustrated with colorful cut paper collages, Splish, Splash, Spring would be an excellent book to read aloud to children in preschool through kindergarten. In the book, Spring is sloppy/So raindroppy!, the sun plays hide-and-seek, baby robins cheep and beg for bugs, children dig up earthworms and slugs and fly kites, and boughs of trees are "bloomy" and "perfumy."

Each illustration is a framed two-page spread showing three children observing the signs of spring or cavorting outdoors. Like the children in the pictures, the author cavorts, too—she plays with words: Kites are loop-de-looping, baby robins are chit-chit-cheeping, Thunder threatens/Skip-skidoo!

Most of the two-page spreads include a four-line verse with a rhyme scheme of AABC. The final word of the last line rhymes with the last word of the verse on the following page.

Here’s an excerpt:

There’s a crocus!
Plucky petals
Brave the chill

Frilly, silly
Down the hill

Written by Phillis Gershator
Illustrated by Alison Jay
Barefoot Books, 2007

This is a book written in rhyming text about the sights and sounds of the four seasons.

Summer: insects singing, leaves rustling, children splashing in the water, relaxing in a hammock
Fall: acorns and squirrels, ripening pumpkins and apples, the crunch of leaves underfoot, honking geese
Winter: sparkling snow, boots crunching in snow, grown-ups shoveling snow, skaters spinning, skiers gliding
Spring: singing finches, flower bulbs sprouting, chicks hatching, frogs croaking, ducks quacking, rains pitter pattering

Gershator’s text is spare…leaving Allison Jay with an uncluttered canvas to interpret her words. And Alison Jay takes good advantage of this—her illustrations add depth and dimension to the text and evoke the natural essence of the seasons.

I love Alison Jay’s picture book art. Her method of using a crackling varnish over alkyd oil paint gives her illustrations a look of old-world art. Listen, Listen is absolutely gorgeous! Jay’s illustrations are painted in the shape of rectangles, circles, semi-circles, ovals, and rectangles overlaid on a white background—and some are painted directly on a plain white background. Gershator’s rhyming text curves around most of the illustrations—unifying the words and art.

Gershator’s book about the four seasons begins with summer. She keeps a special focus on the sounds of the seasons throughout the book.

Listen, listen…what’s that sound? Insects singing all around!
Chirp, chirp, churr, churr, buzz, buzz, whirr, whirr.

In the two-page spread that accompanies these lines, we see all kinds of bugs—grasshoppers, ladybugs, ants, dragonflies, bees, and butterflies—resting on blades of grass or flying through the air. In the following illustrations for summer, fall, and winter, we see: insects flying out of an illustration onto the white page as summer leaves and autumn arrives; a squirrel carrying a basket of acorns; people picking apples and harvesting pumpkins; geese flying overhead as autumn winds whip colored leaves across the page; a starlit winter night; people sledding and skiing down a snow-covered hill; two cats warming themselves by a fireplace; birds singing to a smiling sun as spring arrives; sprouting flowers shouting; chicks hatching; frogs croaking in a pond while rabbits munch a snack; spring showers dimpling a pond as animals race for cover.

Here’s an excerpt from the section on spring:

Frogs croak, ducklings quack. Munch, munch, rabbits snack.
Rains fall, pitter, patter. Sparrows gather, chitter, chatter.
Listen, listen…spring is gone. Another season has begun.

Gershator brings us back full circle and to summer once again, reinforcing for young children the cycle of the seasons. At the end of the book there are four pages—one for each season—in which things emblematic of a particular season are listed—things for children to look for in the illustrations.

Here are some of the plants, animals, and other things listed for spring:

a bluebell
a daffodil
a duckling
a rabbit
a rainbow

NOTE: You can view four of the book’s interior illustrations here—as well as art from some of Alison Jay’s other books here.


Check my post Poetry Friday: Spring Is for more poetry book recommendations and poetry-writing suggestions.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by Lisel Mueller entitled “When I Am Asked” in which she explains how she came to write poetry.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Book Review: What To Do About Alice?

Written by Barbara Kerley
Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Scholastic, 2008

Are you looking for a great nonfiction book to read aloud to elementary children? One that’s just perfect for sharing during Women’s History Month? Look no further than Barbara Kerley’s newest book, What To Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy! This picture book biography about Teddy Roosevelt’s oldest child is a delight from beginning to end.

Born in 1884, the precocious Alice was different from most of her female contemporaries. Not one to be bound by the conventions of her day, she enjoyed living her life to the fullest. She rowed across Oyster Bay for picnics. “She roamed the streets of Washington from the Capitol to the gypsy camps by the racetrack.” She was a tomboy. She even joined an all-boys club.

When Alice’s father decided she should begin attending a prim boarding school so she could grow up to be a proper young lady, she spent the summer in despair. Her father relented. She didn’t go to school that fall. Instead, she stayed home and educated herself by reading the books in her father’s library. “She taught herself astronomy, geology, and even Greek grammar. She read Twain, Dickens, Darwin, and the Bible, cover to cover.” She also developed an interest in politics.

When Teddy became president, Alice welcomed visitors to the White House with her pet snake named Emily Spinach. She stayed out late at night. She sped around town in her runabout. Despite her father’s admonitions not to speak to reporters when she was out gallivanting, she often made headlines in gossip columns. Conservative women’s groups thought her behavior was “outrageous.” What her father referred to as “running riot,” Alice called “eating up the world.” Teddy had trouble keeping his high-spirited daughter in check, once remarking: “I can be president of the United States, or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.”

During Teddy Roosevelt’s second term of office, Alice traveled abroad for four months—to Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, and China. In addition to returning home with twenty-three cases of “loot,” she came back with a fianc√© named Nicholas Longworth, a congressman she had met on the trip. Eight hundred guests attended her wedding at the White House.

The irrepressible Alice, whose life was immersed in politics, also became a great asset to her father. She served him as a goodwill ambassador. She was also a trusted adviser. But whatever Alice did…wherever Alice went, she always played by her own rules.

Barbara Kerley’s well-paced text is lighthearted and would be a fine biography to read aloud. Young children will, no doubt, enjoy hearing about the early years and antics (waving wildly to friends at her father's inauguration, jumping fully clothed into a ship’s pool) of a president’s rambunctious child who was full of life—and lived life to the fullest.

Visit Barbara Kerley's website for Classroom Ideas, which includes "fun" ways to use her books--including What To Do About Alice?

More about Alice

From Alice Roosevelt Longworth, wild thing

From the Theodore Roosevelt Association: Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth

From Alice Photo Album & Slide Show

Anastasia Suen has the Nonfiction Monday Roundup at Picture Book of the Day.

Friday, March 7, 2008

More Poetry for Women's History Month

Last Saturday, I posted a review of More Spice than Sugar: Poems about Feisty Females, a book that would make a great classroom resource for Women’s History Month. The post also includes recommendations for other books to use in conjunction with that poetry anthology. Here’s a review of another poetry book I recommend for sharing during the month of March.

Written by
Ann Whitford Paul
Illustrated by Michael Sreirnagle
Brwondeer/Harcourt Brace, 1999

This is a book of poems about fourteen young women—some of whose names may be well known to most of us: Amelia Earhart, Rachel Carson, Sacajawea, Wilma Rudolph, Pocahontas, Wanda Gag, Mary Jane McLeod, and Golda Mabovitch/Golda Meir. Many of us may be less familiar with the names of others: Violet Sheehy, Ida Lewis, Harriet Hanson, Kate Shelley, Maria Mitchell, and Frances Ward.

In free verse poems, Ann Whitford Paul, celebrates the hard work, courage, and accomplishments of these remarkable females. In the back matter of the book, the author includes additional information about each of the “girls.” Each two-page spread includes a boxed poem on the left-hand side and a framed portrait of a young woman, picturing her in a setting emblematic of her early life, her interests and dreams, or a specific event written about in the poem, on the right hand side. Sacajawea is illustrated leading explorers through snowy terrain. Ida Lewis is shown in a rowboat on a rough sea rescuing men whose boat has capsized. Children’s author and illustrator Wanda Gag is pictured with pen in hand drawing a picture, and Maria Mitchell is shown staring through a telescope. Both text and art inform readers about these “14 girls who made a difference.”

A Look at the Poems


From Sacajawea

Long years ago a girl embarked
with two explorers, Lewis and Clark,
to learn about uncharted land…

traveling on for two years’ time,
trudging, tramping day by day,
wending, winding on her way,
with every dauntless step she took,
she walked into our history books.

I highly recommend reading Joseph Bruchac’s well-researched historical novel Sacajawea.

Written by
Joseph Bruchac
Scholastic, 2000

(Maria, who was mostly self-educated, taught for many years as Professor of Astronomy at Vassar College.)

From Maria Mitchell

With her father, each clear night,
Maria watched the dome of sky,
studying with careful eye,
entranced by every cosmic sight.
He let her use his telescope,
so she could see the lights out far—
the color, gleam of every star.

I recommend reading Maria’s Comet, a picture book about Mitchell that “is fanciful and rich in poetic imagery that will work well for reading aloud” (School Library Journal). The book does have a lovely lyrical text. It includes a note from the author explaining that the book is a work of fiction—but inspired by the life of the real Maria Mitchell. The author also includes a page with information about astronomy terms that were used in the book.

Written by
Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by
Deborah Lanino
Simon & Schuster, 1999

Here’s how Maria’s Comet begins:

As darkness falls,
Papa goes up to the roof to sweep the sky.
When I was little,
I thought Papa stood on our rooftop
sweeping the stars into place,
with one great whoosh of a broom.

Maria’s father was an astronomer. She learned later that he swept “the sky with a small brass telescope/moving it slowly over the sea of stars/like a sailor scanning the waves.”


Kate Shelley helped rescue survivors from a train wreck on a railroad bridge during a torrential storm in the summer of 1881. She later received a gold medal from the state of Iowa for the heroism she showed that night.

From Kate Shelley (This poem captures the drama of Kate’s rescue mission.)

The water lapped the railroad bridge.
Her lantern’s small flame quivered. Then it died!
Kate strained to see the ties placed far apart,
stooped down to her knees, and groped through the dark.
Jabbed by splinters, ripped by nails,
she crawled along the planks—across a span, five hundred feet.

Read your students Kate Shelley: Bound for Legend, a fine nonfiction book that tells about Kate’s family life prior to the train wreck and provides a gripping account—in both text and illustrations—of her rescue mission.

Written by
Robert D. San Souci
Paintings by Max Ginsburg
Dial, 1995


From Rachel Carson
(This poem speaks of her childhood and how she felt when, at the age of ten, she saw a story she had written published in a children’s magazine.)

So pleased was she to see her words in print,
she knew what she would do
when she was not a child—
she’d write about the flowers
bugs and birds and trees
and all things growing wild.

Written by Amy Ehrlich
Illustrated by
Wendell Minor
Silver Whistle/Harcourt, 2003

I recommend the beautifully illustrated picture book biography Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson. While not a complete biography, this book gives readers brief glimpses of Rachel at certain times/days in her life: when she won a silver badge for a story she had sent to St. Nicholas Magazine, in a college biology class in 1927, at Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory on Cape Cod in 1929, collecting specimens to study under her microscope along an estuary of the Sheepscot River in Maine in 1953, learning about the aftereffects of spraying insecticides to kill mosquitoes in 1958. It also touches on the discussions that followed the publication of her book Silent Spring and how Congress established committees to investigate the poisons. This book would be a good introduction to Rachel Carson for young people who have probably never heard about this woman who is credited with beginning today’s environmental movement with the publication of Silent Spring.

Wendell Minor’s luminescent one and two-page spreads, done in watercolor and gouache, draw readers into the natural world that Rachel loved so much, into the world she studied and loved to explore.

Click here to read an interview with Amy Ehrlich and Wendell Minor about Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have Forgotten Planet by Doug Dorph.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Simple and the Ordinary.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Mask Poems Reprise

Here are the mask poems I posted previously at Wild Rose Reader. I thought I’d include them all in one post in response to this week’s Poetry Stretch—Mask Poems at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

by Elaine Magliaro

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

by Elaine Magliaro

This Pig’s outwitted me before.
No, I won’t knock upon his door,
Won’t threaten him, won’t huff and puff.
I’m finished with that macho stuff.
WELL…down the chimney here I go.
I’ll get that little pig. Ho, ho!
Can’t wait to taste his tender meat,
His juicy snout, his porky feet.
I’ll serve him up with grated cheese,
Potatoes, parsley, parsnips, peas.
Yeh! That’s my kind of swiney grub.
I guess I’m in hot water now.
Goodbye, cruel world.
I’m piggy chow!

by Elaine Magliaro

I’m grizzly bear. I’m fierce and fat…
And dangerous. Remember that!
My teeth are sharp as sabers.
My curvy claws can cut like saws,
And when I prowl the woods I growl
And frighten all my neighbors.
I rule this land. These woods are mine!
I ain’t NOBODY’S valentine!
Don’t think that you can be my friend…
My dinner?

The End

by Elaine Magliaro

I’m black and white.
My tail’s all fluff.
I never growl.I don’t act tough.
I wander into yards at night.
I’m really harmless…
I don’t bite
Or snarl
Or scratch
Or kick
Or pounce.
I just dispense scents by the ounce.
That’s how I frighten foes away—
I lift my bushy tail and SPRAY!

I do not need long fangs or claws,
Bulging muscles,
Mighty jaws.
My malodorous defense,
I think,
Makes a lot of SCENTS!

So if you see me take my pose
To ward off predatory foes…
Just stand back and hold your nose!

by Elaine Magliaro

I’m the biggest whale
in the big blue sea.
I’m blubbery big
as a whale should be.

I’m bigger than
an elephant
three rhinos,
a giraffe.

I’m bigger than
ten walruses
twos hippos
and a half.

There’s nothing
in the world
that’s bigger than me…
except, of course,
for the big blue sea!

by Elaine Magliaro

I’m a slippery slitherer
silent and sleek
sliding and slinking
through grasses
I sneak...
weaving and winding
legless and low
I slip slyly hidden
wherever I go.
Wending and bending
by stalk, stem, and stone
like a ribbon of muscle
and skin without bone
tongue catching the scent
of a soft, furry prey.
Smells like it’s field mouse
for dinner today!

by Elaine Magliaro

My magic mirror is for sale.
It’s such an awful tattletale!
It told me things about my foe
I’d really rather never know.
I MUST be fairest in the land…
Not second best! You understand?
I want to be the most divine.
My reputation’s on the line!

The seven dwarfs are little cretins!
They should be in the dungeon, beaten.
They foiled my plans to kill the lass.
So…now I’ll sell my looking glass
And spend the cash on wrinkle cream,
A nose job, and a health regime,
Two weekends at a beauty spa.
Then I’ll look like a movie star.

I’ll be the fairest in the land!
And Snow White? She can go pound sand!

by Elaine Magliaro

Dear Lion,

I’m tired of doing the hunting, the preying
While your only job is to watch the cubs playing.
I’m tired of stalking the zebras and gnus
While you lie around on the grassland and snooze.
I’m tired of running, and pouncing, and killing.
I want a career that is much more fulfilling.
I’m tired, so tired. I’m spent to the core.
While I’m hard at work, you just eat, sleep, and snore.
I fetch all the food. You grow stronger…I thinner.
For the next seven days you can catch your own dinner!
I’m going away for a well-needed rest.
I’ll be seeing you soon.

All my love,