Sunday, July 27, 2008
Ron Koertge's Unlikely Titles
A Wrinkle Caught Just in Time (The Botox Journals)
Winnie the Poop
Horton Hears a Whom
The Little Engine That Could but at $3.99 a Gallon Didn’t Very Often
You can read the rest of Koertge’s Unlikely Titles here.
I was inspired by Koertge’s Unlikely Titles. As soon as I finished reading the Cadenza, I picked up my pencil and started writing down my own “unlikely titles.” Then I typed the titles on my computer, saved them in a file, and forgot about them. This morning, as I was deleting files from my computer, I came upon my “Unlikely Titles” document. I added a few more titles…and here they are:
Elaine’s Unlikely Children’s Book Titles
Chicken Soup with Lice
The Very Hungry Larva
The Ultra-suede Rabbit
Mike Mulligan and His Ethanol-powered Backhoe
Snow White and the Seven Short-statured Men
Alexander and the Wonderful, Marvelous, So Good, Very Great Day
Green Egg Beaters and Spam
A Condo Is a Condo for Me
Frog and Toad Are Married
The Bon Jour Au Revoir Window
I Still Stink!
Frankenstein Makes a Panino
Click Clack Cluck: Chickens That Tap Dance
Brie and Caviar for Frances
Where the Wild Things Are Having an Orgy
Harriet the Spy Returns: The FISA Files
Would anyone care to suggest some more Unlikely Titles?
Friday, July 25, 2008
Goodnight Bush: A Picture Book for Adults
By Erich Origen & Gan Golan
Little Brown, 2008
There is nothing I like more than a good parody. And what could be better than searing parody of our present administration?
Find Out More about Goodnight Bush
The Official Good Night Bush Website
From NPR: Goodnight Bush Closes Chapter On Bush Years
NY Times Book Review: The Secret to Success in Publishing: Bash Bush, With Nods to a Classic
The World's Greatest: Poems--A Book Review
THE WORLD’S GREATEST: POEMS
Written by J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Keith Graves
Chronicle Books, 2008
This collection of “record-breaking” poetry is fun to read. A master of light verse, J. Patrick Lewis proves himself adept at taking factual information and writing about it with wry humor and the clever turn of phrase. These “greatest” poems are written in a variety of forms, including limerick, acrostic, and concrete poetry. Although not of historic importance, the subjects Lewis selected to write about in his rhythmic and rhyming (with one exception) poems would most likely be of interest to young readers...and listeners.
Here are some of the facts Lewis imparts in his book:
- The smallest American newspaper measured 3 X 3 ¾ inches.
- The biggest pumpkin weighed 1,469 pounds.
- The longest time a person was stuck in an elevator was 81 hours.
- The talkingest bird was a budgerigar (a type of parakeet) named Puck who knew 1,728 words.
- Alfred A. E. Wolfam holds the record for the most Kisses. He smooched a total of 10,504 people in eight hours. (After that I bet Alfred was not only tuckered--but also puckered--out!)
Would you believe that the longest traffic jam was more than 1,000 miles long? To be exact, it was recorded at 1,093 miles! Where and when did this record-breaking jam occur? Lyon toward Paris, France, on February 16, 1980.
Here is how Pat Lewis relates the event in his poem that takes the shape of a long line of traffic:
The Longest Traffic Jam
By J. Patrick Lewis
(That poem certainly resonates with me--and would probably with anyone else who has ever been stuck waiting in line near the Hampton toll station in New Hampshire on a Saturday in summer. Our longest time waiting in line to pay our toll was 2 ½ hours! One year we even got rear-ended--twice--by the same driver who tried to leave the scene of the accident…until her car conked out a few hundred feet ahead of us. She couldn't have gone far anyway--not with all that traffic! It was no minor accident. The car repairs cost $7,000.)
But…I digress from this book review. Forgive me.
The Largest Mantle of Bees provides a fine example of Lewis’s mastery of humorous verse and poetic wordplay. The poem is about a man whose body was said to have been covered by an estimated 343,000 bees. Lewis concludes it with a delightful--and “punny”--ending.
The Largest Mantle of Bees
By J. Patrick Lewis
A busy buzzy body, he’s
a hive for eighty pounds of bees.
His beard was bees,
his nose was bees,
his arms and legs and toes were bees.
His wife, they tell us, laughed so hard
she broke the hammock in the yard!
We don’t know why it struck her funny,
but ever since, she’s called him Honey!
The World’s Greatest: Poems would be a “great” book to share with children in elementary and middle school. Kids are sure to take pleasure in hearing poems about The Kookiest Hat, The Dumbest Dinosaur, The Tallest Roller Coaster, The Longest Time a Human Remained Standing, and The Highest Air on a Skateboard. The book’s illustrations done by Keith Graves in acrylic paints and colored pencils add to the fun and complement the humorous nature of this poetry collection.
Classroom Connection: After sharing this book with children, it might be fun to have them select their favorite “record breakers” from The Guinness Book of World Records and write their own "greatest" poems about them.
Note: I asked Pat Lewis where he got his idea for writing The World’s Greatest: Poems. Here’s what he told me:
The inspiration came from my having written A BURST OF FIRSTS. I thought I could extend that by choosing the biggest, tallest, shortest, smallest, et al, all of whose subjects were culled from THE GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS. I'm trying to prove in my books that there is no subject in the world that does not lend itself to poetry.
I say Amen to that!
A BURST OF FIRSTS:
DOERS, SHAKERS, AND RECORD BREAKERS
Written by J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Brian Ajhar
Another Note: I had planned to include a full review of A Burst of Firsts: Doers, Shakers, and Record Breakers in this post. Unfortunately, the book is now out of print. I will tell you that in this book Lewis wrote poems about both historically significant and insignificant events and people. The insignificant: the first non-Japanese sumo wrestler, the first parachute wedding, the biggest bubble-gum bubble ever blown, and the #1 lunch choice of school kids.
From #1 Lunch Choice of School Kids
ISN’T French fries
ISN’T plain bologna
ISN’T Moon Pies
ISN’T peanut butter
ISN’T Cap’n Crunch
ISN’T what your mother went
And packed inside your lunch!
(Pssst! It’s pizza.)
The historically significant events and figures: Ruby Bridges, the first child to integrate a white school; Jackie Robinson, the first person to break the color barrier in baseball; Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first men on the moon; and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.
Here are the third and fifth stanzas from First Men on the Moon:
The first man down the ladder, Neil,
Spoke words that we remember now--
“one small step…” It made us feel
As if we were there, too, somehow.
A quarter million miles away,
One small blue planet watched in awe.
And no one who was there that day
Will soon forget the sight he saw.
To learn more about the talented J. Patrick Lewis and his work, click here to read the interview I did with him for Wild Rose Reader in April.
I would like to thank J. Patrick Lewis for granting me permission to post poems and excerpts from his books The World’s Greatest: Poems and A Burst of Firsts.
At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by Richard Hoffman entitled Summer Job.
The Poetry Friday Roundup is at A Year of Reading.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Rattletrap Car: A Great Summer Read-Aloud
Written by Phyllis Root
Illustrated by Jill Barton
Candlewick Press, 2001
The Characters: Poppa and his three children--Junie, Jakie, and “the baby”
The Story: It’s a hot hot hot summer day. Junie, Jakie, and the baby want to go to the lake to cool off. Father is concerned that they might not make it to the lake in his “rattletrap” car. As Poppa says, “It doesn’t go fast and it doesn’t go far.” But the children insist…so Poppa decides to give it a try. The family packs up everything they want to take along for their outing at the lake:
- Dad packs a thermos full of razzleberry dazzleberry snazzleberry fizz and a tub of chocolate marshmallow fudge delight.
- Junie takes her beach ball.
- Jakie takes his surfboard.
- The baby takes her three-speed, wind-up, paddle-wheel boat.
Little do the characters know that they will need everything they’re taking with them even before they reach the lake.
Once everyone is in the car, Poppa turns the key…
brum brum brum brum
bing bang pop!
They were off to the lake
In their rattletrap car.
They didn’t go fast and
They didn’t go far when
The tire went flat.
Oh my goodness! What are they going to do? Junie knows. She gets her beach ball and sticks it onto the car in place of the flat tire with some of the chocolate marshmallow fudge delight.
The family sets off again on the trip to the lake…but...
The floor fell off.
No problem! Jakie takes his surfboard and sticks it to the underside of the car with…what else?...chocolate marshmallow fudge delight.
bing bang pop!
They are off to the lake once more. Then the gas tank falls off. Not to worry. Dad attaches the thermos of razzleberry dazzleberry snazzleberry fizz to the rear of the car--with chocolate marshmallow fudge delight--and the family is back on the road. But when the engine falls out, it seems their hopes of ever getting to the lake are dashed. Jakie, Junie, even Poppa don’t have a clue what to do to get the car running again. That’s when the baby shakes her three-speed, wind-up, paddle-wheel boat and cries, “Go, go, go.”
Junie, Jakie, and Poppa get to work putting the baby’s boat in place of the fallen engine. Then Poppa turns the key and the car starts up. Sure enough…the family makes it to the beach in their "rattletrap car." They splash in the water and stay cool all day long…till the moon comes up and they get into the car and go…
all the way back home.
1. Prior to reading the book aloud, print the words below on large chart paper. Point to the words as you read them aloud to children. Do this a few times until children know the words. Then encourage them to join you in saying the words when they are repeated several times in the book…along with the addition of a new line (two words) each time the family fixes a "rattletrap car" problem and sets off on the road again.
2. Tell children to listen carefully as you read to them all the things the family took with them to the beach. Tell them it will be important to remember what they brought along.
3. When the family experiences their first problem--the flat tire--ask children what item the family brought along that they might be able to use in place of the tire? Do the same with the car floor, gas tank, and engine.
My students loved saying words like razzleberry dazzleberry snazzleberry fizz and those listed above and repeating the refrains with me as I read Rattletrap Car aloud. I got lots of requests for this book after I shared it in the library.
A Lesson from Writing Fix: An Onomatopoetic Field Trip (using onomatopoeia to tell the story of an imaginary field trip)
Art by Jill Barton
Images of some illustrations done by Jill Barton for Rattletrap Car and other picture books.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Popsicle: An Original Poem
By Elaine Magliaro
Of cherry juice
Down my chin.
A crimson cave
Of flavored ice
Kelly Fineman has the Poetry Friday Roundup.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Books for Summer Reading
From The Horn Book: Summer Reading
Scholastic: Fun in the Sun Books
Kids Out and About: Use Summer-Themed Books to Keep Kids Interested in Reading
PBS: Tips for Summer Reading
Chicago Children’s Museum: Don’t Snow on Summer (This webpage has ideas for “teachable” moments that may crop up during the summer season.)
Book Reviews Posted Previously at Wild Rose Reader
Friday, July 11, 2008
New Mexico, Independence Day, and A Puppy
Then came the Fourth of July. I spent hours preparing food last week for the holiday, and spent three days with family and friends. It was the best Independence Day celebration in years. The heat wave hadn’t yet arrived. Add to the distraction quotient that my daughter’s boyfriend just got the cutest yellow lab puppy with the sweetest disposition. I couldn't resist playing with Jack!
So…for this Poetry Friday, in addition to a poem entitled Taos, written by New Mexican poet Cynthia Gray, I’ve got more photos of New Mexico, pictures taken at sunset on the Fourth of July from a boat that was moored in Marblehead Harbor, and some puppy pictures!
By Cynthia Gray
From the house on the High Road
the Bridge is invisible
but I know it’s there
Spread out below I can see the
And the option draws me back
time and again
You can read the rest of the poem here.
Sunset at Marblehead Harbor
July 4, 2008
This is Jack!
This is the stick that Jack fetched!
This is the stick that Jack ate!
The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Under the Covers.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Summer Poetry Readings at Boston University
Place: Sargent College Auditorium at 635 Commonwealth Avenue
Time: 3:45 to 4:30
Monday, July 14th: Heather McHugh
Tuesday, July 15th: Louise Gluck & Frank Bidart
Wednesday, July 16th: Robert Pinsky & Maggie Dietz
Thursday, July 17th: Mark Doty
Friday, July 4, 2008
Fourth of July Parade
FOURTH OF JULY PARADE
Hear the blare of bugles,
Hear the beat of drums,
Hear the sound of marching feet.
Down the street it comes,
In the sun and shade,
All the music,
All the color
Of the Fourth’s parade.
See the buglers blowing,
See the drummers pound,
See the feet go up and down
To the music’s sound.
In the shade and sun,
All the color,
All the music
Says the Fourth’s begun.
Here’s a link to the fireworks acrostic I posted for the Fourth of July in 2007.
At Blue Rose Girls, I’ve posted a poem by New Mexican poet Cynthia Gray entitled High Desert July.
The Poetry Friday Roundup is at In Search of Giants.
Happy Independence Day!!!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Up, Up, and Away!
On Friday morning, my husband and I went for a hot air balloon ride. It was only our second time taking a high altitude adventure in a basket. What a blast!
New Mexico rocks!!!