Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Poems & A Christmas Video

I'm re-posting several of my original Christmas poems that have appeared at Wild Rose Reader in the past. I also have Christmas Eve Polka, a poem I wrote for my unpublished collection of memoir poems--A Home for the Seasons. Christmas Eve has always been the special holiday time for my family. We make traditional foods like pierogis for our Christmas Eve dinner. We eat no meat. We exchange gifts--and celebrate family.

When I was young, we gathered at the home of my maternal grandparents early on Christmas Eve. My Babci and Dzidzi had six grandchildren--all girls. We had a grand time together--eating, laughing, dancing around when my Uncle Benny played his accordion. I wrote Christmas Eve Polka in memory of my uncle--who always took time to make his four nieces feel like special people--and the happy times I spent at my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve.

I've also included a special Christmas video for you

Christmas Eve Polka

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

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

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

Santa snaps the reins. Red-nosed Rudolph

Leads the team of reindeer this early winter

Eve. Up, up

Into the sky with a cargo of Christmas

Gifts and goodies they rise, weaving through clouds. Can you

Hear the merry jingle of their silver bells?

Candy Cane

Wrapped in a cellophane of sound:
a striped stick of sweetness,
red as Rudolph’s nose,
white as Santa’s beard.
Crinkle open your peppermint present.
Let your tongue celebrate
the wintry taste of Christmas.

Things to Do If You If You Are a Bell

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


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

on the white porcelain-topped table,
places it in a large sky-blue bowl,
covers it with a damp towel,
and sets it on the kitchen counter
near the hissing radiator.
Swelling with bubbles of air,
the dough rises into a pale yellow cloud
flecked with bits of orange rind.
The baking babka fills the house
with the scent of Christmas.
We eat the bread fresh from the oven,
its insides steaming and golden—a homemade treasure
rich enough to warm a winter night.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a video of Judy Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and a special Elf Yourself greeting.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Book Aunt.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Holiday Greeting from the Magliaros

A Christmas Elf Yourself Holiday Greeting from the Magliaros

Horn Book Fanfare: Best Children’s Books of 2009

My new post at Political VersesHealthcare Joe: A Clerihew about Joe Lieberman The post includes an original poem and three humorous videos.

Here are two Christmas-themed clerihews that I wrote for Tricia’s Poetry Stretch last week. They aren't my best clerihews—but they’re appropriate for the season.

Ruldolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
Led his team into the aerosphere
As they pulled Santa’s sleigh
Up, up and away.

The Grinch hated the Whos.
They gave him the blues.
He tried to steal Christmas away—
But they sang and celebrated that day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Things to Do If You Are a Bell...and More Poetry for Christmas

Here’s a poem from one of my unpublished poetry collections titled Things to Do—a manuscript that has received two rejections to date. I thought Things to Do If You Are a Bell would be an appropriate poem for posting on this Poetry Friday a week before Christmas.

Things to Do If You Are a Bell

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

Jack & Rudy

Season’s Greetings from Jack & Rudy
(Jack is my daughter’s yellow lab and Rudy is the cat she got last Christmas.)

Jack loves Christmas. Woof! Woof! Woof!
Rudy loves it too. Mew! Mew! Mew!
Can’t wait to get their presents—
Some biscuits and a bone,
Some catnip and a ball of yarn,
Some meat-scented cologne.
Jack and Rudy love their tree—
Its ornaments and lights,
The gold star at its tippy-top
Glistening and bright.

Woof! Woof! Woof!
Mew! Mew! Mew!!
They're sending season's greetings
To every one of you.
I will now interpret
What they REALLY want to say:

Have a tailwagging purrfect
Merry Christmas Day!

Click on the following links to read reviews of books of Christmas poetry and Christmas stories in verse from Wild Rose Reader and Blue Rose Girls:

Poetry Book Reviews: Under the Kissletoe & Hanukkah Haiku
Poetry for Christmas (A review of Aileen Fisher’s book Do Rabbits Have Christmas?
Christmas Books in Verse
More Poetry for Christmas
POETRY FRIDAY: Christmas Stories in Verse

At Political Verses this week--Stand for Christmas: A Song Parody & a Poem.
Susan Taylor Brown is doing the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Buying Books for the Holidays

I love to spend time at the Banbury Cross Children’s Bookshop in Wenham, Massachusetts. It’s a wonderful store owned by a woman with a passion for children’s literature. Her staff shares her passion for books. Whenever I need book suggestions or want to see the best new children’s titles, I head over to the store.

At this time of year, it’s nice to support local businesses and independent booksellers who may be hurting this holiday season. I’ve already bought lots of books for gift giving this Christmas. How about you?

Here are some of the Christmas and winter-themed children’s books I’ve purchased recently:
by Lauren Thompson
Pictures by Jon J Muth
by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler
by Wendell & Florence Minor
by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
by Margaret Wise Brown
Pictures by Jim LaMarche
by Barbara Joosse
Illustrated by Betsy Lewin

(This little story is based on The Tale Of Mr. Tod, one of Beatrix Potter's Lesser Known Tales.)
by Melissa Stewart
Illustrated by Constance R. Bergum

From Banbury Cross Children’s Bookshop:
Holiday Special Newsletter 2009
Poetry—The Forgotten Cousin of Story

UPDATED TO ADD: 105 Ways to Give a Book from Mother Reader. (I don't know how I missed Pam's posting in late November!)

Stand for Christmas & A Very Cheney Christmas

Over at Political Verses, I have two new posts this week:

Stand for Christmas: A Song Parody & a Poem

A Very Cheney Christmas (A humorous Headzup video)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The December Small Graces Auction Is On!!!

Click here to bid on the final Small Graces painting.
This is your last chance to bid on a Small Graces painting done by children's author and illustrator Grace Lin.
Remember...the money raised by the auctions helps to support author/illustrator visits and residencies in urban schools in the Greater Boston area.
Read the following post to find out more about the money raised by the Small Graces auctions and the plans The Foundation for Children’s Books has for 2010: Final Small Graces Auction Begins on December 14th!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Here & There--December 12, 2009

Some news...some book lists...some book reviews. Maybe you'll find some children's books you'd like to give as gifts for the holidays.

From School Library Journal
School Library Journal’s Best Children’s Books of 2009
It’s Caldecott Time: Some of this year’s graphic novels should be serious contenders by Ernie Cox
‘Kirkus Reviews’ Shuts Down by Rocco Staino

From Booklist
Top 10 Books for Youth: Sci-Tech (2009)
Top Ten Books for Youth: Science Fiction & Fantasy (2009)
Top Ten Books for Youth: The Arts (2009)

From Publishers Weekly
Best Children’s Books of 2009
Children’s Book Reviews: 12/7/2009
Shelftalker: 2009 Starred Books Wrap-up

From Kirkus Reviews
The Best Children’s Books of 2009

2009 Orbis Pictus Award Winner, Honor Books, and Recommended Books

From The New York Times
Notable Children’s Books of 2009
Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2009

From Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children
Favorite Poetry Books of 2009 for Young People

From Wild Rose Reader—Poetry Book Reviews 2009
Red Sings from Treetops: A Book Review & An Invitation (4/17/09)
Presenting Anna Alter & What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? (4/21/09)
Poetry Friday: Animal Haiku (4/24/09) This post includes a brief review of Michael J. Rosen’s The Cuckoo’s Haiku.
The Frogs and Toads All Sang: A Book of Poems by Arnold Lobel (6/05/09)
Book Review: Sky Magic Compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins (6/12/09)
Poetry Book Review: Incredible Inventions Compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins (6/19/09)
Poetry about City Life (7/24/09) This post includes a review of Lee Bennett Hopkins’s City I Love.
Countdown to Summer: A Poetry Book Review (8/28/09)
Stampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School (9/04/09)
Button Up! Wrinkled Rhymes by Alice Schertle (10/2/2009)
The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination (11/6/2009)

Final Small Graces Auction Begins on December 14th!

Grace Lin

ATTENTION: Next week the last Small Graces painting by Grace Lin will be auctioned off on eBay.

I’m posting an email message that I received the other day from The Foundation for Children’s Books regarding the Small Graces Auction and the Foundation’s plans for a new fundraiser next year.

Dear Children's Book Lover,

This month, we are pleased and grateful to offer Grace Lin's final donated painting in this year's benefit art auction, "Small Graces." Read below about our exciting plans to extend the auction into 2010. Learn more about our programs in under-served schools and how your donation can support this important work. And find out about great new books and events in our area. We'd love to promote other events in the world of children's books in Greater Boston, so send us your program announcements!

In January, we began a new and exciting art auction to support our work bringing authors and illustrators into under-served schools in Boston and Chelsea. "Small Graces" was Grace Lin's great idea and every month, she painted another gem of a painting for us to auction on eBay with 100% of the proceeds to benefit the FCB. Go to the "Small Graces" website to see them all. This incredibly generous idea has so far raised $4,600 to support our work! We are so grateful to Grace and to all of you who have purchased these paintings. Thank you!

This month, we will auction the sweet painting shown below from Monday, December 14 through December 18. We'll send a reminder with the eBay item number on Monday. For those who find original art from children's books beyond their budget, this is a great way to buy affordable art! Please spread the word and bid!

We can't let such a fabulous event end, so we have two ways of keeping "Small Graces" alive: first, you can purchase high-quality, hand-signed prints of three of the 2009 paintings online at the Child at Heart Gallery. The cost is $25, they make wonderful gifts, and half of the proceeds will support the Foundation for Children's Books.

And second, we'll continue the auction into 2010 with a terrific group of generous illustrators who will each contribute a painting to Small Graces 2010! Look for paintings by Melissa Sweet, Brian Lies, Matt Tavares, Jarrett Krosoczka, Anna Alter, Jeff Mack, David Costello, Diane DeGroat and more in the coming year.

Now you can donate online!
Please consider the Foundation for Children's Books for your year-end charitable giving this year. Donations provide important funding for our author and illustrator visits and residencies in under-served schools, as well as for educational workshops for teachers and librarians.
If you'd like to honor a friend or family member with a donation, we're happy to send out a card illustrated by children's illustrator Jeff Mack acknowledging the gift.
Now you can donate online using Paypal, or print out a donation form and mail it in with your check. Go to our website membership and donation page here.
We welcome financial contributions of any size. The FCB has been designated by the IRS to be a 501(c)(3) corporation, and all financial contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Some ideas for contributing to the FCB:
$50 helps purchase books for a school visit.
$100 sponsors aninstitutional membership for an under-funded school.
$250 provides resource materials for professional development workshops.
$500 underwrites an author/illustrator presentation at a workshop event.
$1,000 purchases classroom sets of new books to accompany an author/illustrator visit to an under-resourced school.
$1,500 underwrites a fiction-writing workshop for fifth graders in one school district.
$2,500 sponsors an author/illustrator visit to an urban school serving 300-500 children and teachers in grades K-8.
$5,000 underwrites a half-day professional development workshop in an under-resourced school district.

Thank you!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two Poems about Time

Tricia’s Monday Poetry Stretch this week was to write a poem about time--"in any form, in any of its incarnations." Here are two original “time” poems for you today. I think I need to work on A Poem for New Year’s Day. I’m not sure about the last line.

A Poem for New Year’s Day

What is time?
The passing of days
as we spin through space
into darkness and then light
through morning, noon, and night…
as we travel 'round the sun
at a breakneck pace
in and out of months
and ever-changing seasons
till we come full circle.

We’ll begin the trip again
at the starting point
right here…
and follow a well-worn path
as we complete another year.

One turns—so turn all the other gears…
Clicking, ticking, tocking together
Keeping in time through the years.

Diane has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Random Noodling.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Children's Holiday Books Post 2009

Book Lists from Various Sources
Christmas Picture Books from Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Review
Christmas Books for Children from Macmillan
Hanukkah Read Up! (pdf) from the Association of Jewish Libraries (2006)
On Beyond Rudolph: Christmas with the Animals (2007) from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (Click here for the pdf version.)
Christmas Favorites to be Read Aloud from the Children’s Literature Network
Holiday Picture Book Archive from PlanetEsme
Holiday Picture Books for Preschoolers from Scholastic here and here.
Festive Tales for the Holiday Season from Scholastic (Grades Pre-K to 4)

Book Reviews from Wild Rose Reader and Blue Rose Girls
Winter Trees, Christmas Trees (WRR, December 2008)
Poetry Book Reviews: Under the Kisseltoe & Hanukkah Haiku (WRR, December 2008)
Poetry for Christmas (WRR, December 2007)
Picture Book review: The Best Christmas Ever (WRR, December 2007)
Christmas Books in Verse (WRR, December 2007)
Picture Book Review: Christmas Magic (WRR, December 2007)
More Poetry for Christmas from Wild Rose Reader (WRR, December 2007)
Magic & Monsters: Picture Books for Hanukkah (WRR, November 2007)
Poetry for Hanukkah (WRR, November 2007)
Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Books (WRR, November 2007)
Winter Lights & Christmas Trees (BRG, December 2006)
Christmas Stories in Verse (BRG, December 2006)
A Hanukkah Story to Share: The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes (BRG, December2006)

More Book Suggestions
Guide Book to Gift Books(pdf) from BCCB
Children’s Books: Snow Zone from the Sunday Book Review, New York Times (November 8, 2009)
Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2009 from The New York Times
Best Children’s Books of 2009 from Publishers Weekly
2009 Holiday Gift Guide: Best Picture Books for Kids and Families from Common Sense Media

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wikio's New Literature Blog Rankings

1Leiter Reports: A Group Blog
2Maud Newton
3Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent
4Janet Reid, Literary Agent
5Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent
6TLC Book Tours
8Editorial Anonymous
9A Newbie's Guide to Publishing
10Wild Rose Reader

Ranking by Wikio

Grace Lin on the Today Show

My friend Grace Lin talks about her fantasy novel Where the Mountain Meets the Moon with Al Roker and five children on the Today Show.

The Poetry Friday Roundup Is Here!!!

I'm doing the Poetry Friday Roundup this week. Please leave the URL of your poetry post in the comments. I'll be updating and adding links throughout the day.

NOTE: Sorry I'm later than usual posting the poetry links this morning. We had a family medical emergency this week. I've also had a stubborn sinus infection. My energy level is bit low at the moment.


Just after Midnight Poetry Postings

At Wild Rose Reader today: The Giant's Magic Harp Sings: A Fairy Tale Poem.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by June Harvey titled I Cannot Speak of War.

Morning Poetry Postings and Some Villanelles

Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect has a villanelle she wrote as part of the Poetry Seven's efforts.

Liz Garton Scanlon shares her villanelle, First Date on the Railroad Trestle, at Liz in Ink.

Laura Purdie Salas joins in with Fierce, her villanelle for the Poetry Seven group.

Sara Lewis Holmes shares an original villanelle today as part of the Poetry Seven: Marrow, Friends, Each to Each.

Kelly Fineman shares her villanelle A Family Thanksgiving.

Mary Lee of a Year of Reading participates in Poetry Friday with three excerpts from Diane Ackerman poems. She says: “I’m trying to make sense of some recent tragedies that have touched not me directly, but lots of the people in my world. How do they/we keep going?” Check out her post: Poetry Friday—I Praise My Destroyer.

Diane Mayr took on a poetry challenge to write englynion at Random Noodling. Diane also shares Flirtation, a poem by Rita Dove, at Kurious Kitty’s Kurio Kabinet. And at Write Sisters, she takes a look at Mary Quattlebaum’s Winter Friends, a collection of poetry for children.

Andromeda Jazmon is in with a Thanksgiving Villanelle she wrote as part of the Poetry Princess project.

Jama is celebrating Alice and Arlo today, with a little about her restaurant, 2 recipes, and Arlo's poem, "Mooses Come Walking” at Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup.

Charlotte’s talks up today with three fun picture books in verse at Charlotte’s Library.

Julie Larios wrote: “I'm feeling a bit blue about Obama's speech on Tuesday & decided to post the lyrics to a song from WWI called The Green Fields of France, and a link to a You Tube video in which John McDermott sings it. Links to two other songs, too - Pie Jesu from "Requiem", sung by Sarah Brightman, and Bring 'em Home sung by Bruce Springsteen.” Check out Julie’s post—Poetry Friday: Heartache. (Julie I posted I Cannot Speak of War, a poem I found at Poets Against War at Blue Rose Girls today because I was also feeling a bit blue too.)

Jules of 7-Imp is already gearing up poetically for the holiday season with some Christmas lyrics and art from Elisa Kleven at Poetry Late-Thursday-Night: On High.

Jeannine Atkins wrote about Sweethearts of Rhythm written by Marilyn Nelson and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. FYI: The poems are written from the points of view of instruments.

Heidi Mordhorst, a children’s poet I had the great pleasure of meeting at NCTE in Philadelphia, joins in with a foolish limerick and an original poem suitable for the long dark nights that lead up to the Winter Solstice: We Light a Candle.

Karen Edmisten gives us Reluctance, a poem by Robert Frost, this Poetry Friday.

Irene Latham has a Ted Kooser poem called The Skater at Live. Love. Explore!.

Charles Ghigna, aka Father Goose, Shares an original poem with us today: Winter in the Park.

G. R. LeBlanc is in with a quick review and a haiku from the picture book Grass Sandals, The Travels of Basho, over at Reflective Ink.

This week's poem on The Stenhouse Blog is Aliteracy Poem by Steven Layne.

A Light Poetic Lunch Bunch & Another Villanelle

Jet has a poem by Vachel Lindsay for us to munch on midday at The Incredible Thinking Woman.

Sylvia Vardell is in this week with a focus on 2009's top trend in poetry for children: TIME at Poetry for Children.

Tricia was kind enough to provide me with the link to Thanksgiving Away, the villanelle written by Tanita Davis—who’s traveling.

When Evening Falls—Poetry Calls

Sherry’s sharing a Christmas poem today that was written by George Herbert at Semicolon.

Miss Erin contributes an original poem this Poetry Friday.

The Giant's Magic Harp Sings: A Fairy Tale Poem

November was a very busy month for me. December has kept me on my toes so far too! Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. I dug into my computer files for a poem to post today. I selected a fairy tale poem for you--a poem in which the giant's golden harp cries out to her master as Jack--of Beanstalk fame--runs off with it.


“Save me,” sings the magic harp.
“Hear my solo in F sharp:
Save me, save me. Scooby-do,
Master, I belong with you.

“I like living in the sky,
Somewhere over the rainbow, high
Above my country ‘tis of thee.
Fee fo fo fum! Rescue me.

“Oh, great giant, take me back.
I don’t want to live with Jack.
Save me, master, don’t refuse—
Or I’ll only sing the blues.”


At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by June Harvey titled I Cannot Speak of War.

I’m doing the Poetry Friday Roundup at Wild Rose Reader today.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Party for a Poetry Man

I was away in Philadelphia for a few days last week for the 2009 NCTE Annual Convention. The reason I attended the convention--for the first time ever--is because I wanted to be there to celebrate with lots of other poets at the Poetry Party for Lee Bennett Hopkins, the 2009 recipient of the NCTE EXcellence in Poetry for Children

L to R: Janet Wong, Pat Lewis, Kris George, Moi, Rebecca Dotlich

Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong compiled a special book of poems as a tribute to Lee. I was thrilled to be one of the poets as to contribute to Dear One. Click here to read Eating Poetry, the poem I wrote in honor of Lee.

Pre-Party Pictures

L to R: Pat Lewis, Rebecca Dotlich, Michele Krueger

L to R: Moi, Pat, Rebecca

Let the Tribute Begin!

Sylvia Vardell Gets the Poetry Party Rolling

Lee Bennett Hopkins Comes to the Podium

Lee & The Poets Who Shared Their Poems & Remembrances of Him
L to R: Walter Dean Myers, Georgia Heard, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Sylvia Vardell,
Lee Bennett Hopkins, Janet Wong, Jane Yolen, Pat Lewis

More Poetry Party Pics

Bobbi Katz
Sara Holbrook

L to R: Pat Lewis, Jane Yolen, John Grandits

And here's one of my all-time favorite poems about poetry. This one's for you, Lee!

Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

You can read the rest of the poem here.


At Political Verses, I have Who's the Turkey?: A Poem about Sarah Palin.

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