Thursday, April 30, 2009

DRAGON: An Original Acrostic

Well…I couldn’t let the last day of National Poetry Month pass without posting an original poem. Here’s an acrostic I wrote y-e-a-r-s ago.

Dagger-toothed demon

Roars its fiery breath, sets

Aflame a village,

Grips everyone in its claws

Of terror.

Now where is the knight in shining armor?

NOTE: I’ve changed the date of the last drawing for National Poetry Month. I’ve decided to hold the drawing on May 3rd instead of May 1st. Another change: Anyone who leaves a comment at any of my poetry posts dated April 29th-May 2nd will be eligible to win a copy of Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku, which was written by Paul B. Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Tricia Tusa.

ANOTHER NOTE: I’ll be mailing out the winning books next week. If you’ve been named a winner in any of the drawings and haven’t emailed me your address yet, please do so by next Monday. Thanks!

NEWS: Google Faces Antitrust Investigation for Agreement to Digitize Millions of Books Online

From Democracy Now!: Google Faces Antitrust Investigation for Agreement to Digitize Millions of Books Online

Click the link above to view Amy Goodman’s video interview with Brewster Kahle, Founder of the non-profit online library, the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive hosts an online text archive of over one million written works.

From the Democracy Now website: The Justice Department has launched an investigation into whether Google is violating antitrust laws by reaching an agreement with authors and publishers to digitizing millions of printed books and posting the contents online. We speak to Brewster Kahle, founder of the non-profit internet library He’s among critics warning Google could end up with a monopoly of access to information and exclusive license to profit from millions of books.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

MOON: An Original Acrostic

From Jonathan Turley’s Blog (April 23, 2009): Report: Bill Nye “The Science Guy” Exposed as Godless, Soulless Blasphemer in Texas

There is an interesting account out of Waco, Texas where Bill Nye “The Science Guy” was booed for saying that the Moon does not generate it own light — in contradiction to the Bible. This will likely end any designs of Nye to open a new Bill Nye “The Religion Guy” line of products. The speech reportedly occurred in 2006 but the controversy was rekindled after critics cried foul at the removal of the story from the local newspaper’s online archive.

Nye ran afoul of the faithful by remarking that it is not true that the moon generates its own light as opposed to reflecting light. This contradicted Genesis 1:16, which says quite clearly (if only Nye bothered to read it) that “God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.”

You can read the rest here.

I hope I don’t run afoul of this particular group of the faithful with the following acrostic poem!


Of the sun, bright

Orb in the evening sky, Earth’s


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

National Poetry Month--Fourth Week Roundup

The Miss Rumphius Effect Presents Interviews with Children’s Poets
Poetry Makers - Betsy Franco
Poetry Makers - Carole Boston Weatherford
Poetry Makers - Lisa Westberg Peters
Poetry Makers - Laura Purdie Salas
Poetry Makers - Calef Brown
Poetry Makers - Marilyn Nelson
Poetry Makers - Helen Frost
Poetry Makers - Douglas Florian

GottaBook Presents Previously Unpublished Poems by Children’s Poets
Janet Wong - My Green Grandfather
Nikki Giovanni - My Sister and Me
J. Patrick Lewis - The Poet of the World
Julie Larios - No Strings Attached
Joan Bransfield Graham - I am the Poem
Kenn Nesbitt - My Chicken's On The Internet
April Halprin Wayland - How to Read a Poem Aloud

Poetry for Children Presents Children’s Poetry Book Reviews
Earth Day poetry
Poem definitions
Looks like Loose Leashes
Color poetry from Mexico/South Africa
Stampede to School Poetry
Amiri & Odette in Love
Wild Animals from Britain

Liz in Ink Presents A Haiku-a-Day
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 22
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 23
Poetry Friday -- Haiku
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 24
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 25
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 26
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 27

A Wrung Sponge Presents Poetry and Photographs
Poem for Earth Day (A Triolet)
New leaves; spring haiku
afternoon soccer
when it feels like summer
playground duty

Susan Taylor Brown Presents National Poetry Month Haiku
National Poetry Month Haiku #22 Western Redbud
National Poetry Month Haiku #23 Coyote Mint
National Poetry Month Haiku #24 Milkweed
National Poetry Month Haiku #25 Flannel Bush
National Poetry Month Haiku #26 Yarrow
National Poetry Month Haiku #27 Island Snapdragon
National Poetry Month Haiku #28 Dogwood

Pencil Talk Presents Poems by Children & One by Anastasia Suen
All Those Toys
The Chick That Was Afraid
The Tree
The Baby Ladybug
The Storm

A National Poetry Month Post from 7-Imp
More Poetry for April: From Frothy to Freaky

From Jone at Check It Out
Poetry Friday: The Poetry of Miss Huddle’s Room

Wild Rose Reader Presents a Potpourri of Poetry Posts
Silkworm Cocoon & Pupa Poems: Variatons on a Theme
Dirty Dog!: A Triolet
Poetry Friday: Animal Haiku
Color Poems
Two Original "In-Progress" Acrostic Poems
The Winners This Week Are...
National Poetry Month--Third Week Roundup

My Poems & Other Posts at Political Verses
The Cows Caused It: A Poem about Global Warming (According to some congressmen—it may be that the flatulence of dinosaurs and cows have caused climatic changes on our planet.)
This Be the Verse: It Doesn't Matter What You Do (Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Philip Larkin)
Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door: John Yoo at the Pearly Gates
The Winner This Week is...

Two Original "In-Progress" Acrostic Poems

Well, April is drawing to a close. Unfortunately, I haven’t followed through with many of the things I had planned for National Poetry Month this year at Wild Rose Reader. There have been a few things in my personal life that have focuesd my attention elsewhere. Fortunately, the four very talented poets that I had hoped to interview for my blog this month have been understanding and sympathetic. I will be interviewing these fine ladies in the coming weeks. I also had lots of ideas for poetry posts that I never got around to writing up. In time, I’ll get around to those, too.

For many years, I was not a fan of acrostic poems—finding most of the ones that I had read as too prosaic for my taste. Then, over a decade ago, I began attempting to write acrostics—and got hooked. I’ve written about three dozen acrostics—some of which rhyme. In addition, I have also have a number of acrostics that are still “in progress.” I’m not sure these poems will ever make it to the final draft stage.

Here are two of the “in-progress” acrostics from my unpublished collection that I thought I’d post today.

Cans of people,


Roaring down roads on

Silver-capped wheels

Outpost in a barren land,

A haven for weary travelers

Surrounded by stretches of desert,

Island of green washed by a

Sea of sand


Joyce Sidman and I invited you to write and share a color poem. Check out the following Wild Rose Reader posts for further information and writing suggestions.

Red Sings from Treetops: A Book Review & An Invitation

Color Poems

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Winners This Week Are...

Rebecca is the winner yesterday’s drawing at Wild Rose Reader. She will receive a copy of Birds on a Wire: A Renga ‘Round Town, which was written by J. Patrick Lewis and Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Gary Lippincott.

The winners of Anna Alter's What Can You Do with an old Red Shoe? are MotherReader, MJ, and john & amp; catherine.

Note to all of this week’s winners: Congratulations! Please email me your addresses.

Here is the schedule for the upcoming drawings at Wild Rose Reader and Political Verses.

May 1st—for comments left on posts dated April 26-30

The winner of the drawing that takes place on May 1st will receive a copy of Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku. The book was written by Paul B. Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Tricia Tusa.

Find out who won a copy of Once Upon a Tomb: Gravely Humorous Verses over at Political Verses.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Color Poems

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
Written by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Houghton Mifflin, 2009

On April 17th, I posted a review of Joyce Sidman’s wonderful new collection of poems entitled Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors. Joyce and I invited my blog readers to write color poems and submit them to Wild Rose Reader for posting at a later date. Unfortunately, no one has submitted a poem yet—so I thought I’d send out a second invitation…along with four color poems that I wrote today. I kept to the seasonal theme just as Joyce did with the poems in her collection. That is not a requirement for your color poems.

NOTE: Joyce developed a Reader’s Guide for her book Red Sings from Treetops. The guide includes ideas and suggestions for writing three different types of color poems: a list poem, a color person poem, and a synesthesia poem. Why not check out her suggestions? You may be inspired to write your own color poem.

Here’s a link to Joyce’s teacher's guide page for Red Sings from Treetops.

My Color Poems

Spring Green
pokes out from the earth
before the last snows melt,
announces the arrival
of impatient crocuses.
It perches on tree branches
like little bitty birds,
spreads itself over the ground
in grassy velvet shawls.
Spring Green sprouts everywhere
in a dazzle of different shades
covering over the drab brown
of winter.

Summer Yellow,
is brazen and bold,
puffs out its chest in July
and shouts from its perch high in the sky:
Hot Hot Hot!
Summer Yellow
sizzles on the sidewalk,
scorches the sandy beach,
sears our skin with its molten hands.
It grows wild in dandelions
before they wither to white.
It powders the faces of daisies
with gold dust.
Summer Yellow

is tart and tangy,
tingles on the tongue...
likes to cool itself in an icy pitcher
of lemonade.

The Orange of October
shines in the face
of a harvest moon,
grows plump and round in pumpkin patches,
flickers in the angled eyes of jack o’ lanterns…
and their crooked copper grins.
The Orange of October
flames in oak leaves and asters,
smells like cinnamon and nutmeg,
tastes like sweet potato pie.

Winter White
whirls in the wind,
waltzes down from clouds,
alights with feathered feet.
It pillows the ground,
muffling the sound of footsteps
on the walk.
Winter White
wraps the rhododendron
in a fluffy shawl,
lays a feathered quilt
over the frozen pond.
Winter White
etches windowpanes
with frosty fingertips.
It whispers through icy lips,
sounds like a ghost
shivering in cold blue shadows.

If you write a color poem, you can leave it in the comments or email it to me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Poetry Friday: Animal Haiku

The Cuckoo’s Haiku and Other Birding Poems
Written by Michael J. Rosen
Illustrated by Stan Fellows
Candlewick, 2009

The Cuckoo’s Haiku is truly one of the finest books of haiku for children that I have ever read. It’s a wonderful amalgam of lovely haiku about birds, exquisite realistic watercolor paintings showing the different birds in their natural settings, and factual information about the avian creatures in the back matter of the book.

The book is thoughtfully organized by season. The Spring Section includes haiku about the Eastern Bluebird, Canada Goose, American Goldfinch, Northern cardinal, American Crow, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Mourning dove. The Summer Section includes poems about the Chimney Swift, Belted Kingfisher, Barred Owl, Great Blue Heron, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird, and Common Grackle. The Autumn Section includes poems about the Cedar Waxwing, White-breasted Nuthatch, European Starling, American Robin, and Black-billed Cuckoo. The Winter Section has poems about the Dark-eyed Junco, Wild Turkey, Blue Jay, House Sparrow, and Purple Finch.

Here’s a haiku about the Black-billed Cuckoo from the book:

the cuckoo’s haiku
hidden like the chance of rain
its name, repeating

There’s no point in my writing a more extensive review of this book because Jules of 7-Imp has already written the definitive post about it. Her review includes lots of background information from the author—as well as some of the book’s beautiful illustrations. Here’s the link: Poetry Friday and Michael J. Rosen: Haiku is for the Birds.

If Not for the Cat
Written by Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Ted Rand
Greenwillow, 2004

If Not for the Cat is definitely a great departure from the books of rhythmic, rhyming, humorous poems for which Jack Prelutsky has become so famous. Prelutsky proves himself adept at penning this traditional form of Japanese poetry. He writes his haiku about a variety of animals—including jellyfish, a sea otter, a rattlesnake, ants, and a kangaroo. I should note that these seventeen poems do not adhere to all of the essential elements one would expect to find in the classical form of haiku. There are no “season” words. Another thing: Prelutsky’s haiku could also be considered “mask” poems because the animals speak out to us from the pages of this beautifully illustrated picture book in their own voices.

Here is a haiku told in the voice of a hummingbird:

I, the hoverer,
Sip the nasturtium’s nectar
And sing with my wings.

Here’s a link to another poem from the book.

Ted Rand’s spare, elegant illustrations are the perfect complement for the haiku poems in this book. This is a truly lovely collection of pictures and poetry!

You can read a brief description of If Not for the Cat at this link: Horn Book Fanfare—Best Books of 2004.

Least Things: Poems About Small Natures
Written by Jane Yolen
Photographs by Jason Stemple
Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, 2003

Least Things is a book of fourteen haiku about smaller creatures with whom most of us are familiar—snail, crab, caterpillar, butterfly, chipmunk, grasshopper, squirrel, dragonfly, spider, lizard, hummingbird, turtle, tree frog—and a human baby. Yolen writes her poems using the traditional 5/7/5 syllabic format. Close-up photographs of the “least things” showing them in their natural habitats serve as the backdrops for the poems, which--like the haiku in If Not for the Cat—are written in the voices of the different creatures.


A quick sideways glance,
A brief soft-shoe over sand.
I scuttle away.

Each two-page spread in the book includes a haiku and a small bit of factual information about the animal written about in the poem. Yolen wrote the poems for her son Jason’s photographs. There is, therefore, a true marriage of text and illustration. This is a good book to include in a classroom library collection.

Classroom Connection
An elementary teacher could use Least Things as a springboard for a creative writing/cross curricular activity in the classroom. It might be fun for a teacher to gather some color photographs of insects and other small animals and have students write haiku about them. Children could also do a little research and write short paragraphs of information about the animals--just as Yolen did in her book. The students could then illustrate their poems. The photographs, drawings, haiku, and informational paragraphs could be mounted on construction paper and posted on a bulletin board. Wouldn't that make for a wonderful display of student writing and artwork?

Written by Andrew Clements
Illustrated by Tim Bowers
Simon & Schuster, 2007

Dogku is certainly not your typical book of haiku for children. Told through a series of seventeen haiku, this is a light-hearted tale of a stray dog that appears at the door of a family with three children one day. The children name the dog Mooch before they head off for school that morning. While the children are away, Mooch has some adventures and gets into some mischief. He goes for a ride in the car with the window open; he rolls around in the trash; he chews on dirty socks he finds in the laundry basket; and he takes a nap outside on the stoop.

Later that day, a decision must be made by the parents. Will they agree to keep the stray as a family pet—or will they take him to the pound? What will happen? Fortunately for Mooch and the three children, the homeless dog finds a home. Young readers are sure to enjoy this doggy tale with a happy ending.

A new doggy bed!
Food, a bowl, a squeaky toy!
Mooch has found his home.

Tim Bowers' illustrations done in oil paint add to the charm and levity of this endearing haiku story.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dirty Dog!: A Triolet

Don't you just love it when life hands you real situations that serve as inspiration for poetry? My daughter's fiance took their Yellow Lab Jack to a special park today where dogs are allowed to run around unleashed. I doubt Jack will be visiting that park again soon!

My daughter sent me these pictures of Jack after telling me a terribly funny tale about her dog and her fiance.

A Poem for Jerry
Dirty, dirty, dirty dog!
Didn’t heed your master—NO!
Thought you’d run into the bog.
Dirty, dirty, dirty dog!
(I rant in my mad monologue.)
You frolicked where you shouldn’t go.
Dirty, dirty, dirty dog!
Didn’t heed your master—NO!

Here's another post about Jack. It includes several photos of Jack sans the mud: JACK: A Mask Poem

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Silkworm Cocoon & Pupa Poems: Variations on a Theme

When I traveled to the People’s Republic of China with an educational delegation in the autumn of 1994, one of the places we visited was a silk factory. It was fascinating to see the boiled cocoons and the spools of raw silk. I wish I had pictures to post—but all I have are slides of my trip there.

Here are some of my poems about silkworm cocoons and pupae. These poems are variations on a theme. In my elementary classroom, I often shared a variety poems on a particular subject—butterflies, caterpillars, trees, the sun, the moon, winter, spring, etc.—to show my students how different poets might write about them from their perspectives...and in their own unique styles.

The following poems in order are: a mask poem, an acrostic, a cinquain, and a haiku.


This silken nest
Is where I’ll rest
And sleep and change
And rearrange
Myself into another me.

In this small space,
This creamy case,
Six legs I’ll grow,
Four wings—and oh…
Can’t wait to see the ME I’ll be.

Case spun

Of creamy silken threads,

Cozy cottage for

One, changing room

Of a sleeping pupa who will awaken to a

New self.


creamy silken

sack—sleeping bag for one

young dreamer whose wish for wings will

come true

Swaddled in white silk

spinning dreams of a future

that will end too soon


Silkworm Moth (Pictures)

Silkworms Moths

Silk Factory--Suzhou

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

National Poetry Month--Third Week Roundup

The Miss Rumphius Effect Presents Interviews with Children’s Poets
Poetry Makers - Georgia Heard
Poetry Makers - Paul Janeczko
Poetry Makers - Jaime Adoff
Poetry Makers - Arnold Adoff
Poetry Makers - Joan Bransfield Graham
Poetry Makers - Bobbi Katz
Poetry Makers - Kristine O'Connell George
Poetry Makers - Jorge Argueta

GottaBook Presents Previously Unpublished Poems by Children’s Poets
Mary Ann Hoberman - I Dreamt I Saw a Dinosaur
Betsy Franco - Me and Joe Lining Up After Recess
Jon Scieszka - 200 Typing Monkeys Almost Make It
Kristine O'Connell George - Skeleton at Dinner
Arnold Adoff - n o justice n o p e a c e
Jane Yolen - My Teacher
Gregory K. - I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown

Poetry for Children Presents Children’s Poetry Book Reviews
More Fun with Jon Agee
Dinothesaurus by Douglas Florian
A spring manga-ish poetry mash up
Zombies in poetry
Not-poetry by poets

Liz in Ink Presents A Haiku-a-Day
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 15
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 16
Poetry Friday -- Haiku 17
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 18
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 19
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 20

A Wrung Sponge Presents Haiku and Photographs
Being Green
moon watching
Barn Wall
Spice Bush
Wildflower haiku
wisteria buds

Pencil Talk Presents Poems by Children & One by Anastasia Suen
White Flower
The Bird’s Home

Some National Poetry Month Posts from 7-Imp
Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Douglas Florian
7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #110: Featuring Jason Stemple and Jane Yolen
Seven Questions—And a Little Bit of Soup—Over Breakfast with Calef Brown
Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #82 (The Poetry Friday Edition): Laura Purdie Salas

A Post about Emily Dickinson from Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup
friday feast: black cake from the woman in white

From Jone at Check It Out
Fibonacci Friday (Kindergarten students write a different version of the Fib poem created by Gregory Pincus. These poems use words rather than syllables.)

Wild Rose Reader Presents a Potpourri of Poetry Posts
Help Poet Kristine O'Connell George Welcome "Bo" to the White House with Poetry
Red Sings from Treetops: A Book Review & An Invitation
JACK: A Mask Poem
A Few More Poetry Resources
Asteroids: Two Original Poems
Presenting Anna Alter & What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?
National Poetry Month--Second Week Roundup

My Poems & Posts at Political Verses
Teatime for Sean Hannity: A Double Dactyl
Gasbag: A Limbaughrhyme
Bill O. the Bully & Amanda Terkel
This Week's Winner Is...

Presenting Anna Alter & What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?

My fellow Blue Rose Girl Anna Alter is stopping by today on her mini blog tour. We’ll be discussing her new book What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe: A Green Activity Book About Reuse.

What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?
Written & illustrated by Anna Alter
Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt

About the Book
What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?
is a neat package of poetry and “green” craft activities for kids. It’s an excellent vehicle for introducing children to the concept of recycling. It shows how objects we’d usually toss into the trash can be made into things that can be reused in creative and different ways. For example, an old red shoe can be reinvented as a planter; a favorite raggedy T-shirt can be transformed into a pillow; and a ripped shower curtain can become an artist’s apron!

Fred and His Ripped Shower Curtain

Each craft is described on a two-page spread. The step-by-step directions are clear and concise. Anna's spot illustrations will help children to visualize the process and the finished product. A short poem introduces each craft project.

Jack's blanket was stained.
It was damp.
it was done--
a mere ghost of a blanket
made pale from the sun.
the fabric had worn,
a soft gauze to the touch.
Jack gave it a squeeze
for he loved it so much.

And what can Jack DO with a worn blanket?
Why, he can cut it up into small pieces and make patches for his jeans!

The back matter of the book includes suggestions for ways both kids and adults can support reuse and recycling. It also has some hand-sewing tips.

NOTE TO READERS: I having a special giveaway—three copies on What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? All you have to do to be eligible to win a copy of the book is to leave a comment at this post!

Interview with Anna Alter

Elaine: Tell us what inspired you to create a book like What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? for young children?

Anna: Back when I was teaching I did a lot of art projects with my kids; I was a preschool teacher, so art was part of every day at school. I think making art should be an essential part of everyone’s education. I grew up with two parents who were both artists (my mother is a painter and my father was a photographer for many years), and so it was a big part of my childhood and a big part of the reason I became an artist. So, needless to say, I did a lot of art with my students when I taught. But after awhile I started to get frustrated with how much waste this would create, teachers and students alike filled the trash bins quickly. My biggest pet peeve was when kids would scribble a couple of times on one side of a piece of paper, then throw it directly in the trash.

I started to seek out recycling activity books, to find ways to nurture the budding artists in my class without throwing so many things away. I searched far and wide and found many great books with art projects that talked about reuse. But I noticed that there did not seem to be a lot of books that were aimed directly at kids that invited the child reader to really think about where their materials come from, and where they go after they are finished with them. So I decided to make a book that did all those things. I wanted to introduce simple, kid-friendly activities in a way that invited kids to think about reuse in a creative way.

Angelina Making New Wrapping Paper
from Pieces of Used Wrapping Paper

Elaine: Can you describe the format of the book?

Anna: I designed the book to be used as a tool. Each page introduces a character with a short poem that tells you about their predicament. I chose to use poetry to introduce the characters for two reasons. The first is that I wanted the characters to be fun and silly and relatable, and I thought poetry would be a great way to accomplish all those things in a succinct way. The second reason is that I have always loved poetry, writing it and reading it, and was anxious to include some in one of my books!

After each character is introduced, a question wanders across the page, “What can you do with (an object that is in the poem)”, inviting kids to come up with their own answer to the question. When I do school presentations I hold up an object, such as an old red shoe, in front of the audience and ask the same question—what can you do with this instead of throwing it in the trash? Kids always have very inventive answers. I’ve heard everything from turning the shoe into a house for mice to turning a flip-flop into a tiny surfboard. It’s a lot of fun to hear their ideas.

Next the book presents my ideas for reusing each object, with illustrations of the character in the poem carrying out the steps. I really wanted the book to draw kids in, and I think having a character perform each task helps make the projects come alive. It also once again sets the stage for kids to come up with their own ideas; if Ruby turns her old shoe into a planter, what could YOU do?

Elaine: Can you tell us about the website that you developed especially for What Can You Do with an old Red Shoe?

Anna: I’ve put together the website for the book with teachers and educators in mind. The site has a curriculum guide, coloring and activity sheets, and a peek into the process of creating the book. I’ve also just launched a blog attached to the site. It will be a place to post additional fun recycling crafts I come across and also, hopefully, it will become a place for educators, parents, and kids to share their own ideas. I’d like it to be an ongoing conversation about reuse and recycling as it relates to kids and crafting. You can find the blog here.

Elaine: I know you’re planning a sequel to "Red Shoe." Would you tell us about it?

Anna: I am working on a proposal for a sequel to the book. This time I am putting together a book about recycling art activities you can do at parties, with groups of children. When Old Red Shoe was finished I was chatting with my editor (mother of three children) about a follow-up, and she brought up how elaborate and expensive children’s birthday parties have become. It seems to be a trend to throw you child’s party at a venue (such as a gym or restaurant) where you invite the kid’s entire class, and use a lot of disposable favors and paper products. The parties can be over stimulating, expensive, and create a lot of waste. Our idea is to create a book that invites families to throw green kid’s parties that use a lot of creativity, but not a lot of money. Each project in this book asks the partygoers to bring an object with them that they will reuse in an art activity at the gathering.

Elaine: You have another book coming out soon. What is that book all about?

Anna: My next book is called Abigail Spells, and will be out in the end of April. It is a story of friendship about an enthusiastic speller who enters a spelling bee. At heart it’s a story about how friends help you cope when you don’t get what you want, but it is also about excitement for learning and the joys of spelling. Abigail spends much of the book spelling everything she sees (the words are spelled out in all caps so that kids can practice their own spelling). I hope that kids will relate to Abigail’s quest for glory at the spelling bee, her disappointment when things don’t go her way, and her good fortune at having a best friend to help her get through it all.

What can you do with empty cans?
Make lanterns!
Here's what a real tin can lantern looks like:

Here's what the tin can lantern looks like in the book:

Anna is very handy. Here are a couple of her handmade creations--cat "warmies" and t-shirts.


Some places where you can join Anna this spring. All events are free and open to the public.

1. Celebrate the release of What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? Come join in the fun! Anna will give a presentation about how the book was made, read and sign books, and run an art activity from the book. Make your own old red shoe planter!

April 22nd at 3 pm
Wellesley Booksmith

2. Learn about What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? at the Wenham Museum in coordination with the exhibit Soul of the Shoe; artists interpreting how shoes are shaped by our culture. She will read the book and do a presentation about how it was made, followed by a craft activity.

April 23rd at 10:30 am, craft activity
Book signing will follow at 11:00 am
Wenham Museum

3. Anna will be giving a presentation about how she made What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?, running a recycling art activity and signing books at Olivia Browning in Charlestown.

May 9th
10:30- 12:00 Preschool program and art activity
1:00-2:30 Elementary program and art activity
20 City Square, Charlestown, MA 02129
Ph: 617.242.2299

Monday, April 20, 2009

Asteroids: Two Original Poems

Here are two poems on the subject of asteroids. The first is an acrostic; the second is a free verse poem, which you may interpret as you will.

A band of old buddies

Sticking together through the years.

Too small to be planets,

Each one a world apart,

Rocky and lifeless,


In unison,

Dancing a ring around the



Tiny planets
together in a cosmic kindergarten
holding hands in a circle
playing ring around the sun

yearning to grow up
and have orbits of their own.

Both my husband and I are astronomy buffs. We sometimes take our large telescope on vacation with us. I thought I’d provide links to some websites and posts on the subject of space science. It seems most fitting since 2009 has been designated the International Year of Astronomy.

This Week's Winner Is...

Sara Lewis Holmes of Read Write Believe is the lucky winner of Joyce Sidman’s outstanding new book of children’s poetry, Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors. The book was beautifully illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. I have little doubt that this collection of poems about color through the seasons will be found on many lists of “notable” children’s books of 2009.

Note to Sara: Please email me your snail mail address.

Here is the schedule for the upcoming drawings at Wild Rose Reader and Political Verses
  • April 26th—for comments left on posts dated April 19-25
  • May 1st—for comments left on posts dated April 26-30

The winner of the drawing that takes place on April 26th will receive a copy of Birds on a Wire: A Renga ‘Round Town, which was written by J. Patrick Lewis and Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Gary Lippincott. This poetry book would be an excellent springboard for a creative writing activity in an elementary or middle school classroom.

Find out who won a copy of American Wits: An Anthology of Light Verse edited by John Hollander over at Political Verses.

NOTE: This is Earth Week. I’m planning to help fellow Blue Rose Girl Anna Alter celebrate by being one of the stops on her mini-blog tour. Tomorrow, Anna and I will talk about her new book, What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? A Green Activity Book About Reuse. I will be holding a special book giveaway of Anna’s book. To be eligible to win a copy of What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe—all you have to do is leave a comment at Anna’s blog tour post here at Wild Rose Reader.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Few More Poetry Resources

Here are a few more poetry resources I found recently:

From the National Writing Project: NWP Ready for National Poetry Month (April 2009)
Summary: The National Writing Project offers an impressive array of resources to help teachers and students celebrate National Poetry Month, an annual 30-day event that celebrates and promotes the achievement of American poets.

From Self Made Scholar: 100 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

From Arts on Squidoo: Ways to Celebrate American National Poetry Month This April

Don’t forget the list of poetry resources I posted previously:
Resources for National Poetry Month 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

JACK: A Mask Poem

Reminder: Award-winning children’s poet, Kristine O’Connell George, and Little Dog invite children to celebrate National Poetry Month and the arrival of Melia and Sasha Obama’s dog Bo in the White House by sharing poetry about their favorite canine friends.

Read about it in the following Wild Rose Reader post:
Help Poet Kristine O'Connell George Welcome "Bo" to the White House with Poetry

You can also go directly to Little Dog Welcomes Bo to the White House! at Kristine O’Connell George’s website to find out more about sharing your own original mask poem in celebration of the new “first dog” coming to the White House.


Here’s a mask poem I wrote from a Yellow Lab’s perspective. I wrote it about my daughter’s dog Jack who had his first birthday on April 13th.


I’m a dog. I’m frisky,
Friendly, snappy.
I like to make
My master happy.

I get his paper,
Lick his face.
I follow Master
Every place.

We take a long walk
Every day.
I never let him
Lose his way.

I sit, roll over,
Do cute tricks—
Beg for biscuits,
Go fetch sticks.

I always bark
To let him know
There’s someone’s at
The door. I show

Him true affection.
I DON'T pretend!
Why, I’m his very
Bestest friend.


Some Pictures of Jack

P. S. The kitten's name is Rudy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Red Sings from Treetops: A Book Review & An Invitation

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
Written by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Houghton Mifflin, 2009
A Little Background about How the Book Started
Here’s an excerpt from the interview I did with Joyce Sidman last year.

Elaine: You told me before that your most recent book, This Is Just to Say, came out of your work as a writer-in-residence—that it came pouring out of you in a way that other books haven’t. How long does it usually take for you to write a collection of poems? What is the process like?

Joyce: Well, it’s different for every book, but generally I start with an idea, or an image, or an emotion. I have a book coming out next year called Red Sings from Treetops—it’s about color in nature. This book started with the deep thrill that color gives me: a flaming red maple or the soft green of new buds. But an emotion or image is not enough—I have to figure out a “voice” for the book: a way to write it so that it captures that original emotion. I played around with all sorts of color poems, touching on this idea or that, and then retreating when it didn’t feel right. This happened over the course of a year. Finally one spring I looked down at some tracks in the mud, and a line came into my head: “Look down—brown. Deer were here, and a dainty raccoon.” That line isn’t even in the book anymore, but I knew that I’d found a way in, a way of talking about color as though it were alive. After that, the book took about three months to write and another few months of tinkering. I have to go slowly. If I force it, it’s just bad poetry. And I have to give it time to rest so I can look at it with fresh eyes and see if it still works.

From Joyce Sidman’s website: Color has always had the power to lift my spirits and thrill me. The first time I saw a cardinal on top of a tall tree, singing his heart out in the late winter sun, I thought, "WOW!" On my daily walks, I started looking for color everywhere, in each season. And it WAS everywhere--even in winter. To me, each color seemed like an old friend come alive somehow. This book is my attempt to bring color to life for others, as well.

About the Book
Those of us who know and love Joyce Sidman’s poetry books appreciate all the "tinkering" she does with her poems and all the time she gives them to rest so she can revisit them with “fresh eyes.” Sidman’s poetry for children is exceptional.

I’m happy to say that her newest book is no exception to the “exceptional” standard she set for herself in creating outstanding collections of poetry in the past. In Red Sings from Treetops, she gives readers insight into colors through her novel approach to writing about them. Sidman takes a seasonal look at BLUE and YELLOW and RED and GREEN and other colors—and shows us what they embody during different times of the year. For example, here’s what she writes about the pink of spring and the pink of winter:


And here,
in secret places,
peeps Pink:
the color of


In the WINTER dawn,
Pink blooms
Over pastel hills.

Pink prickles:
warm fingers
against cold cheeks.

To Sidman, in summer Yellow melts/everything it touches…/smells like butter,/tastes like salt. But in fall, Yellow is a school bus that grows wheels/and lumbers/down the block,/blinking:/Warning—classrooms ahead.

Sidman’s colors are alive. They move and sing and whisper and float and drip and breathe. In spring, RED squirms on the road after rain. PURPLE pours into summer evenings one shadow at a time. BROWN rustles and whispers underfoot in fall. In winter, GREEN waits in the hearts of trees, feeling the earth turn.

This is what the best poetry should do: Help us to look at common subjects with new eyes—help us to appreciate what lies beneath the surface—to see the reality of something as perceived in one’s imagination. Sidman thinks through the “layers” of colors in this collection and introduces us to their varied personalities.

Pamela Zagarenski’s art is the perfect complement for Sidman’s text. Her mixed media illustrations are stunning—and, like the poems, draw us into the seasonal lives of colors. Some pictures burst with brightness—a brilliant orange pumpkin in autumn…a brazen yellow sun in summer. In other pictures, colors are subdued—like the muted green of winter and pale pink of featherless baby birds in spring.

Write and Share a Color Poem
Last year, when I interviewed Joyce Sidman during National Poetry Month, she and I invited my blog readers to write poems of apology like the ones Joyce had written for her book This Is Just to Say. This year, I asked if she’d like me to invite people to write their own color poems.
Here’s what Joyce wrote:
I love to write color poems with the students I teach in my writer-in-residence weeks at local schools. We try to employ "synesthesia" (see my teacher's guide page: and use all five senses. They really enjoy it, and have definite feelings about certain colors. One beautiful line from a ten-year-old is "Red dances on the sun like a freed slave."

It would be fun to see what your readers could come up with--if you want, you could refer them to the teacher's guide page, and they could write one of the three kinds of color poems I have listed???

Here are a couple of poems that I posted previously at Wild Rose Reader. I didn’t write them as “color” poems—but they both touch on the subject.

Watermelon slice
I sink my teeth in
Savoring succulent flesh
Juice dribbling down my chin
Eating my way down
To a broad green grin

Green carpets the ground,
Reaches over the hills, blankets the broad valley,
And across the wide prairie, stalks of tall golden grain
Sway in the wind
Singing the song of the plain.

NOTE: Poem and artwork from Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. (c) 2009. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Becky’s Book Reviews this week.
At Blue Rose Girls today--POETRY FRIDAY: Opposite Poems
At Political Verses today--Gasbag: A Limbaughrhyme