Friday, July 31, 2009

A Poetry Friday Video: Two Poems for Jack

I have spent quite a bit of time in the past two weeks learning how to make videos with photographs that I have on my computer. It's been fun figuring out how to put a video together with pictures, text, music, effects, and transitions--via the trial and error method. I'm learning!

For Poetry Friday this week, I created a special "doggy" video with two poems for my daughter's dog Jack, a rascally yellow lab. He's a lot of fun to be around!

Here is my first Poetry Friday video: Two Poems for Jack

At Political Verses, I have another Sarah Palin post. It includes a link to William Shatner performing an excerpt from Palin’s farewell speech as poetry on the Conan O’Brien Show. Here’s the link to that post— Sarah Palin: A Farewell Speech and Poem.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by Paul Zimmer entitled Dog Music.

Sylvia Vardell is doing the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Poetry for Children.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

At Political Verses: Another Post about Sarah Palin

I have a new post up at Political Verses. It's about one of my favorite subjects: Sarah Palin. The post includes a link to William Shatner performing an excerpt from Palin's farewell speech on the Conan O'Brien Show.

Here's the link: Sarah Palin: A Farewell Speech and Poem

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A 40th Wedding Anniversary Slide Show

I thought I'd put together a little slide show in remembrance of my 40th wedding anniversary. My husband Mike and I met in high school. We started dating when we were just fifteen. We were married on July 19, 1969.

I had to use the pictures that were available in my computer. In addition to pictures of my husband and me, I've included pictures of our daughter Sara and many of our close friends who have enriched our lives. I've known some of these friends since first grade.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Poetry about City Life

Millions of American kids live in big cities. Certainly, there are picture books and fiction books aplenty that are set in urban areas. There are, however, few poetry books for children that celebrate city life. I thought it would be a good idea to review two such poetry books. The first is City I Love, a new collection by prolific anthologist and poet Lee Bennett Hopkins. The second is Sky Scrape/City Scape: Poems of City Life, an anthology compiled by Jane Yolen that was first published more than a decade ago. These are two fine poetry books that would be wonderful additions to classroom libraries—especially in schools situated in urban districts.

City I Love
Poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrated by Marcellus Hall
Abrams Books, 2009

This collection fittingly opens with a poem called Sing a Song of Cities in which Hopkins explains that cities will sing back to us“in subway roars and rumbles/people-laughs, machine-loud rumbles.” The anthology contains other poems about city sounds, including one in which a mother pigeon requests that the city silence its sirens and quiet its rumbling traffic so her newborn babies can sleep. Another is about a man selling hot dogs and cold drinks who shouts out to people to “Get ‘em here!”

There are also poems about someone trying to hail a cab in the rain, subways filled with many different kinds of people, a sturdy bridge, a hydrant, a sultry city in summer, snow falling in a city in winter, a seal in the city zoo—and one about men and women building a skyscraper. This last poem ends by describing how the ongoing construction appears to onlookers:

it’s like watching
a razzle-dazzle
steel circus

Hopkins includes a poem about a kite in the city that flitters/twirls/tumbles/twitters/like/a/young bird."

And there’s a poem about city lights that begins with lots of great verbs:

Blazing lights


City I Love is a book of poems that truly conveys the sights, sounds, and awesomeness of the city as observed by someone who loves living in one.

The illustrations done by Marcellus Hall in watercolor and ink transport readers to cities in continents around the world—in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, South America. Hall includes pictures of gondolas, buildings with onion domes, signs lettered in foreign languages, people of diverse cultures wearing a variety of clothing. He uses changing perspectives to capture the energy of city life. His illustrations complement and extend the poems in Hopkins's urban-themed collection.

NOTE: Children will have fun looking for the dog with a backpack in all of the book’s illustrations—beginning with the endpapers. The dog is on a world tour of cities by way of poetry and art in this excellent new book by Hopkins.

Sky Scrape/City Scape: Poems of City Life
Selected by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Ken Condon
Wordsong, 1996

Jane Yolen did a superb job in selecting the twenty-five poems she included in Sky Scrape/City Scape. A good number of the poems are exceptional pieces originally published in collections that have been long out of print. In this anthology, you’ll find Judith Thurman’s Zebra and Oil Slick from Flashlight and Other Poems (1976); Lilian Moore’s Pigeons from I Thought I Heard the City (1969); Patricia Hubbell’s The Street Cleaner’s Lament from 8 A. M. Shadows (1969); Felice Holman’s The City Dump from At the Top of My Voice (1970); Myra Cohn Livingston’s 74th Street from The Malibu and Other Poems (1972); Leland B. Jacobs’s The Subway Train from Is Somewhere Always Far Away? (1967). These are poems that have stood the test of time—they are definitely not outdated.

Yolen opens her anthology with City, a poem by Langston Hughes. She selected four poems about skyscrapers—including Carl Sandburg’s Payers of Steel and Rachel Field’s Skyscrapers. The book also contains poems about commuters on subways, grownups rushing to work, graffiti, children playing, rumbling traffic, city parks, a fire escape, and a street cleaner.

Holman's The City Dump has been a favorite of mine for many years. Holman conjured up a lyrical poem about garbage in lilting language. Not the easiest thing to do! In it, she talks about the refuse that has been left at a dump—and about the gulls and mice that steal in and reap the remains of what people have discarded.

Here’s how Holman ends her poem:

The white eggshells
And the green-blue smells
And the gray gull’s cry
And the red dawn sky…
City asleep
City asleep
a carnival
on the garbage heap.

In Pigeons, Lilian Moore laments how these birds spend their lives on concrete and cement. She writes:

A pigeon never sings
of hill
and flowering hedge,
but busily commutes
from sidewalk
to his ledge

Oh pigeon, what a waste of wings!

In Eve Merriam’s A Lazy Thought, a poem about adults rushing about the city, the writer ponders why adults don’t “ grow up” any more:

No wonder
Don’t grow up
Any more.

It takes a lot
Of slow
To grow.

Yolen closes the collection with Norma Farber’s Manhattan Lullaby:

From Manhattan Lullaby

Lulled by rumble, babble, beep,
let these little children sleep;
let these city girls and boys
dream a music in the noise,
hear a tune the city plucks
up from buses, up from trucks…

Ken Condon’s colorful illustrations done in chalk and oil pastel have an impressionistic look that softens the hard edges and grittiness of some of the city scenes. Like Marcellus Hall, he also employs changing perspectives to capture the action and energy of urban life.

There are so many fine poems included in Sky Scrape/City Scape. They are gems that one is unlikely to find in most poetry anthologies for children that are still in print. They provide readers with a true “flavor” of the city. This book is definitely “a keeper.”


At Political Verses, I have Ramblin’ Prose, a song parody about Sarah Palin’s resignation speech.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have Otherwise, a poem by Jane Kenyon.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at A Year of Reading.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ramblin' Prose: Another Palinoem

I just posted another Palinoem inspired by Sarah Palin's resignation speech over at Political Verses. It's actually a parody of Ramblin' Rose, a song made famous by the late Nat King Cole. My parody is entitled Ramblin' Prose.

Here's an excerpt from my newest Palinoem:

Ramblin’ prose, ramblin’ prose
What you’re sayin’ no one knows.
Your speech is inchoate—needs more work.
It’s just a mishmash of ramblin’ prose.

Ramble on, ramble on
Your thoughts meander—hither…yon.

Here's the link to my song parody: Ramblin' Prose: A Song Parody about Sarah Palin's Resignation Speech

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Going Down Maine...Again

We're off this morning to spend a few days with friends up in "the wilds" of Maine. I'm not sure if I'll be able to post from there. Maybe...I'll be able to focus my attentions once more to working on some poetry manuscripts that need a little "tweaking" and to getting some serious reading done.

I hope the gorgeous weather we've been having here lately will follow us north.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Small Graces July Auction Is On!!!

This lovely Small Graces painting is on auction NOW!!!

Wouldn't you love to own an original painting by children's author and illustrator Grace Lin? All the proceeds from the Small Graces auctions will benefit The Foundation for Children's Books, a small non-profit organization in Boston that is making a big difference in the lives of young readers by bringing children's book authors and illustrators into under-served schools in the Greater Boston area for visits and residencies..

Click here to bid on the Small Graces painting that Grace Lin created for the July auction.

NOTE: Bidding closes July 17, 2009 at 14:21:45 PDT

Click here to learn more about the Small Graces auctions.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Acrostics

Here are two of my original acrostic poems about summer—both acrostics begin with the letter C.

Claw-handed critter

Races sideways, skitters

Across the sea-washed land…

Beachcombing in the sand.

Chirping in the dark, their song


In the still air. A

Chorus of summer night strummers in concert with


Entertaining warm evenings with


Symphony of wings.

For more summer acrostics, get a copy of Stephen Schnur’s Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic. The book is beautifully illustrated with hand-colored linoleum block prints by Leslie Evans. Art and text make a perfect pair in this poetry book that would be great to share with a child/children on a hot summer day--or a warm summer evening.

Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic
Written by Steven Schnur
Illustrated by
Leslie Evans
Clarion, 2001

Here is Schnur’s acrostic poem for the letter C:

Close by
A glittering
Blue lake, high
In the mountains,
Nestles a fishing lodge.

Other acrostics in this collection include the following: awning, beach, daisy, hike, idle, mosquitos, picnic, tide, vegetables, and zodiac.

Click here to view some of the book’s interior pages.


At Political Verses, I have a poem about the resignation speech of Alaska’s Governor entitled Sarah Palin’s Swan/Duck/Goose Song.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem entitled Anniversary by Cecilia Woloch.

Jama Rattigan has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Poem about Sarah Palin's Resignation Speech

I haven't been writing snarky poems for my blog Political Verses much lately. But--thanks to Sarah Palin and her resignation speech--I felt a grand inspiration to take to my computer and write another Palinoem.

Here's an excerpt from my newest political verse:

Sarah Palin’s Swan/Duck/Goose Song
by Elaine Magliaro

Hithery dithery dock,
I’m list’ning to Sarah P. talk.
Her thinking is muddled.
The geese are befuddled.

They’ve started to gather and squawk.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Tortoise Acrostic & Fables in Verse

Check out Tricia’s Monday Poetry Stretch - Acrostics at the Miss Rumphius Effect. Here is my “Aesop’s Fable” acrostic, TORTOISE. I’ve also included a couple of recommendations for two children’s pictures books that have fables written in verse. You can read the Poetry Stretch Results here.

by Elaine Magliaro

Take it easy,

Old One. Hare is

Resting beneath a willow

Tree dreaming

Of the finish line—dreaming he is champion.

It is not to be, Old One. You are wise and know

Slow and steady wins the race

Every time.


A Sip of Aesop
Written by
Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Karen Barbour
Scholastic, 1995

Yolen retells thirteen fables in verse in this book that provides us with just a “sip” of the more than two hundred moralistic tales attributed to Aesop. The morals of the fables—which include The Hare and the Tortoise, The Lion and the Mouse, The Fox and the Grapes, and The Grasshopper and the Ants—are also written in rhyme. Yolen’s verses scan well and are fun to read aloud to children—especially those who are familiar with fables.

Here is an excerpt from The Mice and the Council and its moral.

It begins:

The mice called a meeting
At which they all sat
Discussing the way
To get rid of their cat.

“Poison!” one cried.
(A real silly suggestion.)
Hanging and shooting
Were out of the question.

And it ends:

“Good plan,” said one old mouse,
A fine diplomat.
“But answer me—who will go
Bell that mean cat?”


To make a good plan
Is but half a solution.
How close are the words

Yolen includes a bit of information about Aesop in the back matter of the book.

Barbour’s illustrations are bright and saturated with color. They provide a fine complement to Yolen’s “fabulous” verses.

The Hare and the Tortoise and Other Fables of La Fontaine
Translated by Ranjit Bolt
Illustrated by Giselle Potter
Barefoot Books, 2006

Jean La Fontaine was a French poet who lived from 1621-1695. He is best known for the fables he wrote in a series of twelve books. He adapted his poetic tales from fables by Aesop as well as fables from the Panchatantra.

This book includes a number of familiar fables: The Hare and the Tortoise, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, and The Grasshopper and the Ant. It also contains some fables that are less well known: God and the Animals, The Pumpkin and the Acorn, and The Bat and the Weasels.

All the fables in the book are written in a series of rhyming couplets. Here is an excerpt from The Grasshopper and the Ant as an example:

The grasshopper had sung his song
All the delightful summer long
Instead of gathering in supplies.
Now only did he realize,
With winter coming on, that he
Could not have supper, lunch or tea!
He couldn’t find a scrap of food,
The cupboards in his larder showed
Not even one small worm or fly.
He had it, he was high and dry.

Giselle Potter’s spare, stylistic illustrations, done in gouache, serve as a fitting backdrop for the moralistic tales. They never intrude on the text; they enhance this fine compilation of translated fables in verse.

Aesop’s Fables from the University of Massachusetts
From the website: Since 1994 Professor Copper Giloth has assigned her students in Art 271, Introduction to Computing in the Fine Arts, the task of illustrating the traditional Aesop's fables alongside their own retellings of the fables in a modern setting. This collection gathers together artwork from several semesters.

Here are links to two different versions of The Hare and the Tortoise:

Animated Traditional Version of the Hare and the Tortoise (1999) Illustrated by Kit Lee

Animated Modern Version of The Hare and the Tortoise (1999) illustrated by Kit Lee


At Political Verses, I have poems from Frances Richey’s book The Warrior: A Mother’s Story of a Son at War. The post includes a video of Richey and her son speaking with Jeffrey Brown on the Online NewsHour Poetry Series.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by Jack Spicer entitled Psychoanalysis: An Elegy.

Tabatha A. Yeats has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week

Thursday, July 2, 2009

New Class of Black Hole & A Poem by Walt Whitman

On July 20th, we’ll celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing. The lunar landing took place on the day after my wedding. I’ll soon be celebrating those two events that happened four decades ago. I’m still happily married—and astronomy is one of my favorite sciences.

Below you’ll find an excerpt from and a link to a news article that was posted on the Internet yesterday.

New Class of Black Hole Could Explain Cosmic Leviathans

PARIS (AFP) – Astronomers on Wednesday said they had identified an intermediate class of black hole that could explain how supermassive, light-sucking monsters develop in the heart of galaxies.

Their find -- a black hole more than 500 times the mass of the Sun, on the fringe of galaxy ESO 243-249 -- is reported in the latest issue of Nature, the British-based science journal.
In terms of size, it lies between supermassive black holes, which can be billions of times the mass of the Sun, and relative tiddlers, which are between three and 20 solar masses.

You can read the rest of the article here.


Let’s celebrate space science with a poem by Walt Whitman!

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.


Introduce young children to this famous Whitman poem with Loren Long’s beautifully illustrated version of When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer.

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
Words by Walt Whitman
Pictures by
Loren Long
Simon & Schuster, 2004

Click here to view sketches and paintings from Loren Long’s book.

Walt Whitman Resources: The Walt Whitman Archive

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Biographies for Kids

I did an extensive unit on biographies when I was teaching elementary school. One year, I had a second grade girl who got so hooked on the genre that she read eight biographies—even though she was only required to read one!

From my years working as an elementary teacher and later as a school librarian, I learned that some kids enjoy reading nonfiction more than fiction. With that in mind, I thought that I’d provide links to lists of biographies for children as well as links to reviews of some of the picture book biographies that I’ve posted previously at Wild Rose Reader and Blue Rose Girls.

Biography Book Lists & Reviews

Reviews of Picture Book Biographies from Wild Rose Reader & Blue Rose Girls
A Little Extra

Poetry from Iran at Political Verses

I have a new post over at Political Verses: Poetry from Iran. The post includes "poetic tweetings"--or "twitterverse"--by Parham Baghestani and an NPR video of Iran's national poet speaking out about recent events in her country.