Friday, May 30, 2008

The Poetry Friday Roundup Is Here!

I'm doing the Poetry Friday Roundup this week. Please leave the URL of your poetry post along with your comment.

Early Morning Edition

Here at Wild Rose Reader, I have an interview with children’s poet and anthologist Paul B. Janeczko.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have Grief Calls us to the Things of This World, a poem by Sherman Alexie.

John Mutford at the Book Mine Set is in with review of an anthology of Chinese-Canadian poetry called Swallowing Clouds.

Kelly Fineman joins the Poetry Friday Posters with Remember, a poem by by Christina Rossetti, over at Writing and Ruminating.

Stacey from Two Writing Teachers has an original poem for us entitled The Climbing Tree.

Tadmack took time out from packing to post Animal Spirits, a poem by Denise Levertov, at Finding Wonderland.

Stacey has the start of a thinking/wondering poem draft over at her blog, Crafty Creations. She said she’ll be writing the poem today in Writing Workshop alongside her kids.

At A Wrung Sponge, Cloudscome has three lovely haiku written by Richard Wright for us--and of course, some beautiful photographs!

Sara Lewis Holmes of Read Write Believe has a poem from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God.

Tricia has posted A Baseball Poem by J. Patrick Lewis at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Writer2b has a review of Madeleine L'Engle's poetry collection A Cry Like a Bell.

Sylvia Vardell of Poetry for Children has a review of Naked Bunyip Dancing, a book written by Australian poet Steven Herrick.

Mary Lee Hahn of A Year of Reading has a “take-off” poem she wrote for Charlotte Huck's poetry class when she was getting her MA at OSU.

At Read. Imagine. Talk, Jenny is in with some thoughts about Elizabeth Bishop's One Art.

Laura Salas posts her traditional Friday 15 Words or Less Poems.

Laura Salas also has a review of Brian Cleary’s Rainbow Soup.

Sarah Reinhard of Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering, joins in the poetry posters with Queen of the Apostles.

At Picture Book of the Day, Anastasia Suen is groovin’ with Jazz by Walter Dean Myers.

More Friday Morning Poetry Posts

Little Willow of Slayground gives us Ellen Grover’s No Longer for this last Poetry Friday in May.

At Write Time, Linda Kulp has an original Tribute Pantoum she wrote for her mother who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer.

Jama Rattigan is sharing Monologue for an Onion, by Suji Kwock Kim.

Karen Edmisten has a post and a survey about Emily Dickinson for us.

Christine M. has Spring Carol by Robert Louis Stevenson at The Simple and the Ordinary.

Guess who else has an original poem for us this Friday? Kelly Herold of Big A, little a!

Here she is! And it's still morning, even. MotherReader has a poem from and review of Red Butterfly.
The Poetry Lunch Bunch
Charlotte of Charlotte’s Library is in with two favorite poems from Edwin Arlington Robinson.

At Knocking from Inside, Tiel Aisha Ansari has posted an original poem, inspired by Gerard Manley Hopkins' Pied Beauty.

At Becky’s Book Reviews, Becky’s got an original haiku celebrating the good news that beef brisket is GOOD for you!

Anne K. of Morning Glory Alley, says she’s got a poem about compost over at her blog.

Check out the Haiku from Mrs’ Fisher’s Class at Check It Out.

Maybe you’re in the mood for a little Wordsworth this last Friday of May? Then head on over to HipWriterMama.

Susan T. of Chicken Spaghetti of chicken spaghetti is looking for some poems about princesses and parties. If you’ve got any suggestions, let her know.

The Old Coot says: “It's not the normal time of year for reading In Flanders Fields, but I have it anyway for current-events reasons.”

Friday Night Poetry Feast
(NOTE: I'm sorry for the delay in posting the following links. I'm feeling a bit under the weather today and spent the past few hours sleeping.)
Miss Erin thought we might like some Emily Dickinson this week.

Sheila of Greenridge Chronicles is in with some HD and some Longfellow, both in a bit of a beach mood…she says.

At In Need of Chocolate, Sarah has posted Shakespeare's Sonnet 54.

Lisa C. of A Little of This, A Little of That has Catlin Crawford’s When I Think of Home for us today.

Sarah Miller of Reading, Writing, Musing… gives us a poem by Hafiz entitled In A Circus Booth.

At Adventures in Daily Living, Suzanne is sharing a Tom Robinson poem.

Jules of 7-Imp has posted the entire text of two poems and some prose from Honeybee, a book written by one of my favorite poets--Naomi Shihab Nye.

Liz in Ink has a short post about her school's literacy parade and an original poem by one of her daughters about vacation!

Becky at Farm School has some audio poems for us and gives us the scoop on PennSound.

At There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town, Ruth has a poem entitled The Age of Dinosaurs, which was written by James Scruton.
Late Addition
Jim D. of Haunts for a Children’s Writer has written an original poem about sea turtles.

Interview with Paul Janeczko

Paul Janeczko

I first became an admirer of Paul Janeckzo after reading his books The Place My Words Are Looking For: What Poets Say About and Through Their Work and Poetspeak: In Their Work, About Their Work. Those two books introduced me to the work of such wonderful adult poets as Naomi Shihab Nye, William Stafford, Paul Zimmer, Ted Kooser, Marge Piercy, and many others. Paul, one of America's foremost anthologists of poetry books for young adults and a poet himself, has been inspiring teachers and turning kids onto poetry for more than two decades with his books, his poetry workshops, and as a visiting author in schools in this country and abroad.

In the summer of 1995, I met Paul at In Celebration of Children's Literature at the University of Southern Maine when we were both leading poetry workshop sessions. I sat in on Paul's session on multicultural poetry...and was inspired to begin writing a collection of poems about my maternal grandparents that very day. (You can read poems from that unpublished collection, A Home for the Seasons, here and here and here.

In 2003, when I took on the responsibilty for setting the program for the annual Speaker Series of the PAS North Shore Council of Massachusetts, Paul was the first author I contacted. In the autumn of 2004, Paul did a wonderful presentation on writing poetry with children before a rapt audience of teachers and school librarians.

There are few individuals who have the widespread knowledge of poetry and understanding of the kinds of poetry that appeals to children and young adults as does Paul. I am so pleased that he consented to this this interview for Wild Rose Reader.

Interview with Paul Janeczko

Elaine: You were not a reader of poetry when you were young. You didn’t have a positive experience with the way poetry was taught in high school. Do you remember how and when you got “hooked” on poetry?

Paul: It was in college that I got hooked on poetry. I don’t recall a professor that was responsible for introducing me to poetry that spoke to me more than it had done before. So, I’ve come to believe that it was the poets themselves who hooked me. Maybe it was Yeats, or Dickinson, or Whitman. Yes, especially the “good gray poet.”

Elaine: In Authors’ Insights: Turning Teenagers into Readers & Writers (Heinemann, 1992), you say that the poetry that is selected to read with high school students and the way in which it is presented is done with the intention of preparing students for standardized tests—that poetry is not presented in such a way as to have teenagers “experience the fire and ice of words.” Can you tell us how you approached the teaching of poetry when you were a high school English teacher?

Paul: I approached—and still do--reading poetry more as an experience than as an academic exercise, what I call the Autopsy School of Poetics, where you analyze a poem until there is nothing left to talk about, until there are no survivors left in the class. My approach was to let the kids experience good poems that spoke to them. That’s not to say that there was no discussion of the poems. Rather, the discussions were measured and limited. I tried to choose poems that elicited an emotional response in the students and then talk about those responses and how the poet worked his/her magic with language to get that reaction. It’s not by accident that we react emotionally to poetry.

Elaine: In 1990 you left teaching to devote your time to writing your own poetry and to compiling anthologies for young adults. Was the transition a difficult one?

Paul: The toughest thing to get used to was not going to the bank every two weeks. And, of course, I missed some of my colleagues when I left the classroom. Rather than seeing them whenever I wanted to, I had to plan to see them. So, that’s what I did. But any negatives were wildly outweighed by the chance to spend time with my brand new baby daughter and to write. I still got my classroom fix whenever I did author visits. And best of all, I left behind all the ugly petty politics that are part of most school systems.

Elaine: Your poetry anthologies for young adults are exceptional. How do you go about selecting poems that you think will speak to young adults? Do you have special criteria for the poems you choose?

Paul: I look for poems that touch me, first of all. I read a lot of poems, and when I find a poem that I like, I photocopy and stick it in a folder marked NEW POEMS. Once that folder gets to be an inch or two thick, I reread all the poems in that folder. As I read them again, I put them in subject/theme folders, like Nature, Love, Family, and so on.

Elaine: Do you usually have a particular theme in mind before you begin collecting poems for an anthology for young adults?

Paul: I don’t have a theme as I collect poems. Not usually. I just collect the best poems I can find. The thematic part of the anthology comes later, when I have a better sense of what poems I have in my folders. For example, when I noticed that I had a lot of poems about the trials and tribulations of the teen age years, I started working on an anthology which wound up being Preposterous: Poems of Growing Up. Or, I might decide that I wanted to see how many good short poems I had in my files. That idea led to Pocket Poems and to a new collection that I am working on for Candlewick.

Elaine: In more recent years, you’ve begun writing original poetry and editing anthologies for younger children. Your anthologies A Poke in the I, A Kick in the Head, Hey, You!, and Dirty Laundry Pile have been extremely well received. Do you have plans to edit any more books like these for younger kids?

Paul: Absolutely. In fact, in March 2009, Candlewick Press will publish my next anthology illustrated by that genius Chris Raschka, A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout. I’m very excited about this book because many teachers and librarians have asked me about reading poems aloud and memorizing poems. I hope that this collection will meet that need. Beyond that, I have a few other ideas that are still in the mulling stage. But there will be other collections for younger kids.

Elaine: You and Pat Lewis collaborated on Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku and on Birds on a Wire: A Renga ‘Round the Town, which will be published by Wordsong this coming fall. The two of you have become good friends over the years. When did you and Pat meet—and whose idea was it to collaborate on a poetry book?

Paul: As near as I can recall, I “met” Pat sometime in the mid-80s when he sent me some poems for an anthology. I believe the first time I used one of his poems was in The Place My Words Are Looking For. Over the years we have stayed in touch and shared a cup of coffee or two at conventions. Whenever one of us gets an invitation to appear at a convention, he calls the other and asks, “You going?” He is a very funny guy and an incredible poet.

It has been a lot of fun working with Pat. We each write our own poems for the project and let the other read them and critique them until we have the poems we need for a book. We decided from the beginning of Wing Nuts that we would not indicate who wrote which parts of the books.

Elaine: You do a lot of traveling around to schools in the United States and overseas to talk to kids about writing poetry. Last month you went to Poland. Would you like to tell us about that trip?

Paul: It was an amazing trip. Because of my Polish heritage, I was really looking forward to a visit to the “old country.” I enjoyed working with the kids and teachers at the American School of Warsaw for five days. I especially liked the 2nd graders. Beyond the work in the school, I had a great time walking around Warsaw. The school arranged for me to have a grad student at the University of Warsaw lead me on a walking tour of a couple of the historic parts of the city.

Elaine: I know you did research for a book when you were in Eastern Europe. Would you like to tell us about the poetry project you’re working on now?

Paul: I flew to Prague following my week at ASW to do some research for what I hope will be my next book of poems. I spent one day at Terezin, about an hour north of Prague, which was a Nazi concentration camp. It was not an extermination camp like Treblinka or Auswitz. This was more of a holding camp where Jews did forced labor as they as waited to be “transported” to the death camps. Nonetheless, conditions were unspeakably horrible, with overcrowding and death from typhus and other such diseases. What attracted me to Terezin in the first place was an article that I came across that was about all the incredible classical music, art, and writing that came from the prisoners. I was hooked on the juxtapostion of the beastly treatement that the Jews endured and the soaring art that they were able to create.

Elaine: Are there any poets you’d like to meet, have dinner with, and discuss poetry?

Paul: I’d love to go for a walk on the beach with Walt Whitman. Maybe share a late dinner of cheese and bread, some cheap red wine. My guess is that we would talk some poetry, but, given his experience tending to wounded soldiers in the Civil War, I would love to hear what he’d have to say about the unconscionable war in Iraq. Actually, I can guess what he’d say about it. He would more than likely be heartbroken at the shameless loss of so many lives regardless of nationality. And he’d probably be filled with shock and awe (and disgust) at the degeneration of democracy that American citizens have tolerated since the war began. I’m sure he would encourage the citizens to take back our country from the grasp of the lunatic, radical fringe that has been in power for too long.

Note to Paul Janeczko: Thank you so much for this informative interview. We'll be looking forward to your new poetry books!

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by Sherman Alexie.

I'm doing the Poetry Friday Roundup this week. Leave a comment and the URL of your poetry post at The Poetry Friday Roundup Is Here!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Looking for Inspiration

I've spent a lot of time writing poetry this past I haven't been blogging much. I'm off to Maine to do a little research this afternoon. I'm hoping to get some inspiration for the collection of poems I've been working on for several weeks. May my muses be with me!

FYI: I'll be doing the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.

I'll also be posting my interview with award-winning poet and anthologist Paul B. Janeczko tomorrow.

Monday, May 26, 2008

2008 Kidlit Bloggers Conference

It’s time to start thinking about the Second Annual Kidlit Bloggers Conference. This year the conference will be held in Portland, Oregon, on September 27th. Jone MacCulloch and Laini Taylor are taking care of the arrangements. They’d like to know which bloggers are planning to attend the conference.

You can read all about the 2008 Kidlit Bloggers Conference and who’s going to be there at Portland Kidlit.

I didn’t make it to the conference in 2007--but I’m hoping to attend this year. Maybe I’ll see you there!

2008 Kidlit Bloggers Conference
Date: September 27, 2008
Place: Portland, Oregon
Information: Portland Kidlit

Friday, May 23, 2008

Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers: A Book Review

Here’s my review of a picture book--with poetry--that I recommend for reading to children during Asian Pacific Heritage Month.

(Note: Click here to find some book lists and other resources for Asian Pacific Heritage Month.)

Written by Gloria Whelan
Illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
Sleeping Bear Press, 2008

Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers is a work of historical fiction. In the Author’s Note, Gloria Whelan informs readers that she was inspired to write the book after viewing an exhibition of a series of woodcuts, “The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road,” done by the nineteenth-century Japanese artist Utagawa Hiroshige. She goes on to explain that in the 17th and 18th centuries, “provincial governors of Japan were required to spend half of their time in Kyoto, the home of the emperor and the imperial court, and half of their time in Edo (today’s Tokyo), Japan’s political center, ruled by the shogun.” The road these provincial governors and their families traveled between the two cities stretched for 300 miles over mountains and along the sea.

This picture book is narrated by Yuki, a young girl who must travel to Edo when her father is summoned by the shogun. Yuki is hesitant to leave home. Her teacher is frustrated that she will miss many lessons while she is on the weeks-long journey. Her teacher tells Yuki to write a haiku every day while she is traveling to the distant city.

It is evident from the text that Yuki is a child of privilege. Yuki relates how she packs up “twenty of my favorite umbrellas, fifty of my best kimonos, and all my fans.” Yuki and her mother will be transported to their destination in a palanquin, a wooden box outfitted with silk cushions, carried by six men.

In the palanquin, Yuki and her mother are part of a long procession that includes shouters who tell everyone to lie down and bow as the governor passes, samurai, Yuki’s father, and a long line of carriers burdened under the weight of their cargo.

Yuki writes her first haiku when she reaches the gate of their city:

Once outside the gate
How will I find my way back?
Will home disappear?

The first night, as the party arrives at an inn, Yuki’s mother informs her that their journey will not be over until they have spent the night at 53 inns. At this point Yuki’s thoughts turn to her bed back at home--a bed that “lies empty/just waiting for me.”

The next day, as the travelers reach a river, “a blue ribbon we have to cross,” Yuki writes:

River is busy
making its own journey;
it doesn’t look back

Although Yuki thinks of home, she observes many things along the way to Edo through the opened shutters of her palanquin: the river they have crossed, narrow mountain paths they must traverse, snow-covered trees, wild animals, a village tucked into a mountain valley, fishing boats in the sea, and Mount Fuji. Yuki heeds the words of her honorable teacher. She writes about the things she sees and about what she is thinking in her daily haiku. Readers experience the trip along with Yuki in both the story narration and in the haiku.

When the procession arrives at its final destination, Yuki finds a city filled with people and many houses. She says sayonara to their one thousand carriers, and writes a haiku that shows us that she is not longing to return home any more:

Everywhere I see
something to delight my eyes
I stop looking back

Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers is a quiet book that takes readers on a journey through historic Japan in text and pictures. Nascimbene’s large one-and-a-half page spreads are spare and elegant and a perfect complement to Whelan’s text. They capture the beauty of the different landscapes, the height of the majestic mountains, and the Japanese architecture, with muted colors. In most close-ups of Yuki, however, we see her wearing brightly colored, patterned kimonos.

Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers would be a good book to use across the curriculum in a multicultural unit--especially during Asian Pacific Heritage Month. It could also serve as an excellent introduction to or inspiration for a haiku-writing activity in the classroom.
At Blue Rose Girls, I have selected a poem especially for Memorial Day--Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Becky’s Book Reviews.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

PAS North Shore Council: Speaker Series 2008-2009

Today’s a big day for the PAS North Shore Council. Tonight we’ll hold our spring 2008 dinner meeting at the beautiful Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Janet Wong, a friend and one of my favorite children’s poets, will be our featured speaker. Grace Lin will be coming to our dinner, too.

Janet Wong & Grace Lin

Our council has hosted some outstanding children’s authors and illustrators at the Corinthian Yacht Club in the past: Lois Lowry, Anita Lobel, Jack Gantos, Bernard Waber, Kevin Hawkes (2004), Grace Lin (2005), Wendell Minor (2006), and Mary Ann Hoberman (2007).

After three years serving as president of our reading council, I’ll be stepping down. I will, however, remain on the board of directors. I will help with the planning of our council’s annual Speaker Series. Look what our council has scheduled for the PAS North Shore Council 2008-2009 Speaker Series:

November 5, 2008: We’ll have a panel discussion with picture book illustrators and authors, Matt Tavares, Wade Zahares, and Daniel J. Mahoney, at the Danversport Yacht Club in Danvers, Massachusetts

Matt Tavares & Lady Liberty

Wade Zahares & Lucky Jake

Daniel J. Mahoney & A Really Good Snowman

March 4, 2009: Jacqueline Davies, an author of fiction, nonfiction, and picture books, will be our featured speaker at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Massachusetts

Jacqueline Davies at Boston College (May 2007)

The Lemonade War & The Boy Who Drew Birds

May 20, 2009: Award-winning picture book illustrator and author Barbara McClintock will be our guest speaker at the Corinthian Yacht Club
Grace Lin, Barbara McClintock, Elaine, & Pat Keogh
at Boston College in April

Three of Barbara McClintock's Picture Books


Note: If you live on the North Shore of Massachusetts and are interested in becoming a member of the PAS North Shore Council of Massachusetts, a local affiliate of the Massachusetts Reading Association and the International Reading Association, email me your address. I will send you a membership brochure.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Small Talk in the Neighborhood: A Poem by J. Patrick Lewis

I sometimes wonder if children’s poet J. Patrick Lewis ever sleeps. He’s so prolific he must spend twenty-four hours a day writing poems!

Here’s a poem Pat sent me to post for Neighbor’s Day.

Neighbor’s Day, May 20

Small Talk in the Neighborhood
by J. Patrick Lewis

I said, “Hello, how do you do?”
He said, “Oh, pretty good, and you?”

He said, “Well, how about this rain?”
I said, “The weather’s been a pain.”

I said, “And when it rains, it pours.”
He said, “We’ll have to get the oars.”

There wasn’t any more to say—
We said the same thing yesterday.

[Note: This poem will appear in my book COUNTDOWN TO SUMMER: A POEM FOR EVERY DAY OF THE SCHOOL YEAR, Little, Brown, Spring/Summer, 2009. All rights are mine. JPL]


You can read my interview with J. Patrick Lewis here.

Thanks, Pat, for sending along this poem for me to post here at Wild Rose Reader…and Happy Neighbor’s Day!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

OUT & ABOUT: May 19, 2008

The May 2008 Issue of The Edge of the Forest is now available.

PaperTigers for May/June 2008 has been posted.

Mitali Perkins is asking for some book suggestions. Check out her post Wanted: Excellent Father-Daughter Books.

Collen Mondor has the schedule for the Summer Blog Blast Tour 2008 Schedule at Chasing Ray.

The Horn Book has a recommended Summer Reading List.

The 2008 Ezra Jack Keats and New York Public Library New Writer and New Illustrator Awards for Children’s Books have been announced.

School Library Journal: Book Reviews for Preschool to Grade Four (5/1/2008)

Publishers Weekly: Children’s Book Reviews (Week of 5/19/2008)

Edited to Add: The Banbury Cross Children’s Bookshop has just posted its most recent newsletter. Check out the Summer Reading Spectacular.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Poetry on Demand: An Original Poem

I just finished writing this poem for Tricia’s Poetry Stretch - Six Words. You can find out about where Tricia got the idea for the six-word poem stretch at her post. You can read the Poetry Stretch Results here.

Here are the six words I used in my poem: bucket, candle, friend, hole, ocean, snake.

Poetry on Demand
By Elaine Magliaro

Our teacher explained the writing test:
“You must write a poem.
Your poem must contain the six words listed on the board:
bucket, candle, friend, hole, ocean, snake.
Your poem must make sense.
It must contain imagery and figurative language.
It must be finished by the end of this class period.”

When I heard the words You may begin,
I rolled my eyes and groaned.

Then I crawled out of my dark
of desperation
and found a candle of hope
glowing in my imagination.
Grasping my pencil
like a best
in an hour of need,
I let it snake
a trail across my paper.
As it slithered down the page…
it left poetic scenery behind:
an ocean of onomatopoeia,
a seashore of similes,
a meadow of metaphors,
a lovely landscape littered with alliteration.

I was inspired.
I was on a roll.
I was putting the final period on my paper
when I heard the class bell ring.
I skimmed through my poetic masterpiece
as the teacher strolled down the aisles
collecting our tests.
That’s when I realized
I hadn’t used the word bucket.
Aw, @*&# it!
At Blue Rose Girls, I have Happiness, a poem by the late Jane Kenyon.

Two Writing Teachers have the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Summer Ritual: An Original Poem

A few weeks ago, I posted Crocheting, a poem from an unpublished collection of memoir poems I wrote entitled A Home for the Seasons. The poem was about my maternal grandmother. Today I’m posting Summer Ritual, another poem from the collection about Dzidzi, my grandfather, and his garden. Every time my mother and I visited with my grandparents during the summers when I was a child and a young adult, Dzidzi took great pleasure in having me come down to his garden to pick some vegetables or fruit to take home with us.

By Elaine Magliaro

My mother and I arrive at my grandparents’ house

late one Sunday afternoon.

Babci greets us in the kitchen

With glasses of cold drinks clinking with ice cubes.

Dzidzi fetches a small wooden basket

from the cellar, takes my hand,

and walks me down the stone path to his garden.

He leans over a tomato plant,

holds a fat red globe in his cupped hand,

and looks at me. I nod approval.

I can almost taste the tomato’s warm, juicy flesh.

We choose a dozen more and place them in the basket.

We pick three green, glossy-skinned peppers,

pull up a bunch of feather-topped carrots,

enough beets for my mother to make a pot of zimny barszcz

thickened with sour cream and floating with cucumber slices.

Every visit to my grandparents’ house

is the same this season—

a small harvest of vegetables—

and when we leave, I take home

a little basket of Dzidzi’s garden.


At Blue Rose Girls, I have Happiness, a poem by the late Jane Kenyon.

Two Writing Teachers have the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Meme of Five

I was tagged for this Meme of Five by Jenny of Read. Imagine. Talk. Here goes:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What were you doing five years ago?
Five years ago I was working as an elementary school library media specialist and teaching a children’s literature course at a large university. I retired from my library position in 2004.

What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
1. Visit my mother
2. Finish reading Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
3. Clean a closet
4. Go for a brisk walk
5. Do my physical therapy exercises

What are five snacks you enjoy?
1. Dove dark chocolate
2. Cheetos
3. MacDonald’s French fries
4. Fresh vegetables--snow peas, broccoli, red peppers, and carrots--with my homemade blue cheese dip
5. Fresh berries--strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries--with a little Triple Sec

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?
1. Buy my daughter a house
2. Build a house with an in-law apartment and have my mother could come live with my husband and me
3. Buy a summer house on the coast of Maine
4. Help fund local school libraries in poor districts
5. Provide college scholarships for young Native Americans

What are five of your bad habits?
1. Procrastinating
2. Starting one thing, not finishing it, and then going on to several others things
3. Not throwing STUFF away. I have lots of things I haven’t used and clothes I haven’t worn for years just gathering dust in my closets, in the basement, etc.
4. Staying up too late at night
5. Not putting things back in the right place as soon as I should

What are five places where you have lived?
I've lived in two different cities in Northeastern Massachusetts.

What are five jobs you've had?
1. Salesgirl
2. Doing work for a lawyer at the Registry of Deeds in Salem, MA
3. Elementary School Teacher
4. Elementary School Librarian
5. College lecturer

I'm tagging 5 bloggers whose blogs are on my blogroll:
1. Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect
2. Charlotte of Charlotte’s Library
3. Jone of Check It Out
4. Jama Rattigan
5. Vivian of HipWriterMama

Monday, May 12, 2008

Poetry and Science, Part II

Last Monday, in Poetry and Science, Part I, I wrote about poetry books that contain factual information about the animals written about in their poems. Here are two more “informational” poetry books--one about animals that live in rain forests around the world and another about animals that live in the sea.

Written by Susan Katz
Pictures by Lee Christiansen
Greenwillow, 2005

This poetry collection contains nineteen poems about plants and animals found in the rain forests of Africa, Asia, Australia, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Belize. In the poems, Katz writes about a jaguar hidden in the vegetation, a sloth with algae-coated hair, the goliath frog, the tiny royal antelope “with legs as thin as a pencil,” the okapi, piranhas, and other animals. She also writes about the sounds of the rainforest in Jungle Concert, the world’s biggest flower in Rafflesia, the Amazonian walking palm that can actually “walk” about ten feet toward a sunnier location in the course of a decade in Walking Tree, and about the creatures and “garden of flowers” that live high up in trees of the rain forest in the poem Canopy.

In Giant Armadillo, Katz begins:

Rat-tailed, pig-nosed, rabbit-eared fellow
Stuck in a turtle shell, poor armadillo.
Warts on his tongue and plates on his back.
Maggots and worms are his favorite snack.

Anaconda ends with the following four lines:

The larger he gets, the fewer enemies he has;
His hunger swallows tapirs, turtles, caimans, even humans.

Silently he glides away, a ripple in shadowed water,
Erasing all of himself except the shiver down my spine.

Back Matter

In About the Poems, Katz includes interesting tidbits of information about the animals and plants spoken of in her book. For example, she writes of the okapi: A resident of the African rain forests, the odd-looking okapi, though known by indigenous people for centuries, was believed by European explorers to be mythical until the early 1900s, when an okapi was finally “discovered” by Sir Harry Johnston.

The back matter also contains a section called About the Rain Forest, in which Katz provides information about different types of rain forests, the series of layers in such forests, the thick canopy through which only about 2% of the sun’s light can pass, and some types of “plants that grow on and among the trees.”

I’m sure Looking for Jaguar would be a welcome print resource in classrooms studying about tropical rain forests.

Note: The publisher thanks Dr. Scott Silver, Curator of Animals at the Queens Zoo, The Wildlife Conservation Society, for his kind assistance.

Something Extra
Looking for Jaguar: A Teacher’s Guide

Written by Avis Harley
Photographs by Margaret Butschler
Wordsong, 2006

Sea Stars is a poetry book in which photographs taken by Margaret Butschler served as inspiration for Avis Harley’s twenty-seven poems about different sea creatures--including the sea cucumber, beluga whale, plumose anemone, loggerhead sea turtle, giant Pacific octopus, sea otter, and blacktip reef shark. Harley's “saltwater poems” come in a variety of forms: shape, quatrain, tercet, list, haiku, limerick, cinquain, acrostic, and a nursery rhyme parody. Harley includes a section at the back of the book called Looking Deeper in which she provides information about the animals and the bull kelp pictured in the photographs.

Most of Harley’s poems are short and a number of them contain touches of humor--as does Young Prince Pinch, which accompanies a photograph of a galatheid crab:

Young Prince Pinch
was a jolly young prince
and a jolly young prince was he.
He sharpened his claws
and he sharpened his jaws
and he sharpened his pincers on me!

I’m crazy about sea otters. One of my favorite poems in the book is Grab a Crab, a playful, rhythmic tercet with some fine alliteration. The poem was written for Butschler’s picture of a sea otter floating on its back in the ocean with a crab resting on its stomach.

Grab a Crab

After the shell-crushing crackle and crunch,
there’s nothing as yummy as fresh crab to munch
served on my tabletop tummy for lunch.

I have just one criticism of the book: I think the names of the different sea creatures should have been printed on the pages with the poems and photographs--and not just in the back matter. Still, Sea Stars is a children’s poetry book in which a writer adeptly used her poetic imagination and knowledge of marine animals to respond to some fine photographs of sea creatures taken by Butschler. Sea Stars would be a fine book to use across the curriculum.

Note: Author and illustrator include an acknowledgement to the staff of the Vancouver Aquarium.
Anastasia Suen has the Nonfiction Monday Roundup at Picture Book of the Day.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Here's Who's Coming to Dinner!

Last Sunday, I wrote a post in which I provided clues about the author who will be the featured speaker at the May 21st dinner meeting of the Massachusetts PAS North Shore Council of IRA. Whoever guessed the name of our speaker correctly could have been my guest at the dinner or won a book signed by the author. Unfortunately, no one guessed the name of our speaker. So it goes.

I thought I might as well announce the name of our speaker today. Janet Wong, an award-winning poet and author of several popular picture books and two works of fiction, will be our honored guest speaker. Aren’t you sorry now that you didn’t even try guessing her name?


I’m really excited about having Janet as our speaker. She has a dynamic personality and is always entertaining. She is also a very talented children’s author.

You can read my interview with Janet Wong here.