Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Wonderland

I've been suffering from an advanced case of writer's block in recent weeks. I haven't been able to focus on much of anything--on writing original poems or writing book reviews for this blog. Yesterday, as I was driving to my mother's house, snow was falling gently. As soon as flakes touched the pavement, they melted. I was inspired. I made up a rough draft of a poem in my head. I forgot to write it down when I returned home. It wasn't a great poem--but it felt good to have my creative juices flowing again.

The poem went something like this:

Snowflakes falling like fairy dust...
I turn my face to the sky,
Cold white kisses
Melting on my cheeks

I took the photographs posted here in December.
I awoke one morning to find a wonderland of white
outside my bedroom window--
so I got my camera and took some pictures.

I may be old--
but I still like winter.
I love to look at the beauty of new-fallen snow.
Speaking of snow and poetry--
I often shared Dorothy Aldis's poem
On a Snowy Day
with my elementary students.
I liked the imagery she used in it:
Fence posts wearing marsmallow hats...
Bushes in nightgowns kneeling down to pray...
Trees spreading out snowy skirts
I'd also recite Mary Louise Allen's poem First Snow.
Here are the first two lines:
Snow makes whiteness where it falls.
The bushes look like popcorn balls.

Two of my favorite snow poems are mask poems
in which snow speaks to us:
The Snowflake
by Walter de la Mare
Here's how it begins:
Before I melt,
Come look at me!
This lovely icy filigree!
Of a great forest
In one night
I make a wildreness of white...

a poem by Karla Kuskin that ends:
I can make anything
What I touch,
Where I blow,
Even a dump filled with garbage
looks lovely
After I've fallen there.
I am the snow.
I'll close this post with an original acrostic:
In a robe of white
Numbed with cold
The weary

At Blue Rose Girls, I have Winter-Time by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Anastasia Suen has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Picture Book of the Day.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Looking Back: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

I was ecstatic last week when I got news that my good friend Grace Lin had won a Newbery Honor Award for her wonderful fantasy novel Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

I thought I'd put together a little retrospective post with videos of Grace talking about Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, the book trailer, pictures that I took at the launch party for the book, and the celebratory dinner we Blue Rose Girls had after the party.

Grace lin on the Today Show with Al Roker

Grace Lin on The Steve Katsos Show

The Inside Notes for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

The Book Trailer

Pictures Taken at the Launch Party for
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

After the Launch Party,
Grace Treated The Blue Rose Girls
to a Fabulous Dinner

Congratulations, Grace!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Texas Education Board Bans Popular Children's Author by Mistake

Here's some interesting children's literature news
regarding the late Bill Martin Jr.

From Think Progress (1/26/2010)
Right-wing Texas Education Board accidentally bans popular children’s book author.
Last week, ThinkProgress reported on the Texas Board of Education’s push to change the state’s social studies curriculum to marginalize progressives. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reveals that the latest to be nixed is actually popular children’s author Bill Martin Jr.:

In its haste to sort out the state’s social studies curriculum standards this month, the State Board of Education tossed children’s author Martin, who died in 2004, from a proposal for the third-grade section. Board member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford, who made the motion, cited books he had written for adults that contain “very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system.”

Trouble is, the Bill Martin Jr. who wrote the Brown Bear series never wrote anything political, unless you count a book that taught kids how to say the Pledge of Allegiance, his friends said. The book on Marxism was written by Bill Martin, a philosophy professor at DePaul University in Chicago.


More on the story from (1/25/2010)

Name confusion gets kid's author banned from Texas curriculum
Traci Shurley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Bill Martin Jr.'s name would have been included on a list with author Laura Ingalls Wilder and artist Carmen Lomas Garza as examples of individuals who would be studied for their cultural contributions.

Hardy said she was trusting the research of another board member, Terri Leo, R-Spring, when she made her motion and comments about Martin's writing. Leo had sent her an e-mail alerting her to Bill Martin Jr.'s listing on the Web site as the author of Ethical Marxism. Leo's note also said she hadn't read the book.

"She said that that was what he wrote, and I said: ' ... It's a good enough reason for me to get rid of someone,' "said Hardy, who has complained vehemently about the volume of names being added to the curriculum standards.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The January 2010 Small Graces Auction is On!

The Small Graces painting being auctioned off this month was done by Melissa Sweet, winner of a Caldecott Honor Award in 2009 for A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, which was written by Jen Bryant. Melissa's painting will be on auction beginning Monday, January 25 through Friday, January 29.

Click here to bid on the painting Melissa Sweet contributed to the Small Graces fundraising effort that will benefit The Foundation for Children’s Books in Massachusetts.

You can read more about the auction here.

Small Graces website.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Looking Ahead: Some Children's Poetry Books of 2010

Poetry is food for me! I like the way it tastes on my tongue when I read it aloud. Here are two poems about "eating" poetry that I selected for posting today--along with the titles of some children's poetry books that I can't wait to begin feasting on as soon as they're published.

Eating Poetry
By Mark Strand

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.

There is no happiness like mine.

I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.

Her eyes are sad

and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.

The light is dim.

The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

How to Eat a Poem
By Eve Merriam

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

You can read the rest of the poem here.


I thought that 2009 was a fine year for children’s poetry. It looks like 2010 is going to be another good year for those of us who get excited about reading new children’s poetry books as well. Here are some of the books I’m looking forward to reading this winter and spring. I’ve arranged the titles by their publication dates.

Ocean Soup: A Book of Tide Pool Poems
Written by Stephen R. Swinburne
Illustrated by Mary Peterson
Charlesbridge (February 2010)


Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse
Written by Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by Josee Massee
Dutton (March 4, 2010)

From the starred Booklist review by Patricia Austin: This ingenious book of reversos, or poems which have one meaning when read down the page and perhaps an altogether different meaning when read up the page, toys with and reinvents oh-so-familiar stories and characters, from Cinderella to the Ugly Duckling. The five opening lines of the Goldilocks reverso read: “Asleep in cub’s bed/Blonde/startled by/Bears,/the headline read.” Running down the page side-by-side with this poem is a second, which ends with: “Next day/the headline read:/Bears startled/by blonde/asleep in cub’s bed.”

********************Everybody Was a Baby Once and Other Poems
Written by Allen Ahlberg
Illustrated by Bruce Ingman
Candlewick (March 9, 2010)


Written & illustrated by Douglas Florian
Beach Lane Books (March 9, 2010)

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the poems in the book:
Click here to read Paper Birch.
Click here to read Dragon Tree.
Click here to read Giant Sequoias.

Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems
Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrated by David Diaz
Margaret K. McElderry (March 9, 2010)

Lee Bennett Hopkins showed me an F&G of Sharing the Seasons at the NCTE Convention in November. The book is gorgeous!

Click here for a peek inside the book.


Volcano Wakes Up!
Written by Lisa Westberg Peters
Illustrated by Stephen W. Jenkins
Henry Holt (March 30, 2010)


Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors
Written by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Beckie Prange
Houghton Mifflin (April 5, 2010)

From the starred Booklist review by Gillian Engberg: The creators of the Caldecott Honor Book Song of the Waterboatman and Other Pond Poems (2005) offer another winning blend of poetry, science, and art in this picture-book collection that celebrates the earth’s most resilient and long-lived species. Following Waterboatman’s format, each dynamic spread in this remarkable volume features a poem, a prose paragraph, and a captivating illustration that work together perfectly to reinforce both the science concepts and the awe they inspire.

The book trailer for Ubiquitous: Celebrating Natures Survivors


Amazing Faces
Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrated by Chris Soentpiet
Lee & Low (May 2010)

Click here to find out about this book from the publisher.


At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by Karen Swank-Fitch titled I Leave Bits of Me Everywhere.

Liz Garton Scanlon is doing the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2010 ALSC Notable Children's Books Announced

From the Association for Library Service to Children:
2010 Notable Children’s Books

Three of my favorite books of 2009 that are also Cybils finalists made the list.

Younger Readers
All the World
By Liz Garton Scanlon
Illus. by Marla Frazee
Beach Lane

The myriad joys of the world are reflected with warmth and affection in this look at a day in a small community near the ocean.
(A 2010 Caldecott Honor Book)

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors.
By Joyce Sidman
Illus. by Pamela Zagarenski

Evocative poems celebrate color and enliven the senses as readers follow a woman and her dog surrounded by myriad intricately costumed and stylized figures through the seasons.
(A 2010 Caldecott Honor Book)

Middle Readers
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
By Grace Lin
Illus. by Grace Lin
Little, Brown

A young Chinese girl, long a believer in her father’s fantastic stories, goes on a quest to find the legendary Old Man of the Moon in the hope of bringing life to Fruitless Mountain.
(A 2010 Newbery Honor Book)

Click here for a Cybils printable flier.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Horn Book's ALA Awards Page

From The Horn Book: 2010 ALA Awards Page

Melissa Sweet Painting to Launch 2010 Small Graces Auction

From The Foundation for Children’s Books:

In 2009, the talented and generous author/illustrator Grace Lin donated 11 original paintings to the Foundation for Children's Books to be auctioned on eBay as a benefit for our programs in under-served schools.

In this new year, we are fortunate enough to have 12 different illustrators contributing to our "Small Graces" auction. Each month a small (approximately 5x5 inch), unpublished, original painting will be auctioned on eBay with 100% of the proceeds to support the FCB's author/illustrator visits and residencies in urban schools. Each painting will illustrate a bit of wisdom, a proverb, or a "small Grace."

This month's painting (below), a lovely watercolor by Cadecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet, will be on auction beginning Monday, January 25 through Friday, January 29.

Melissa Sweet has illustrated over 70 children's books from board books to nonfiction and jacket covers. She has written and illustrated two books, Tupelo Rides the Rails, and Carmine: A Little More Red, a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book in 2005. Melissa illustrated A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant, a 2009 Caldecott Honor book. When she is not in her studio, she can be found riding her bicycle in Rockport, Maine. Learn more about Melissa and her work at her website here.


Small Graces Website

Here’s the painting I won in the February 2009 Small Graces auction:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Grace Lin Wins a 2010 Newbery Honor Award!!!!!

My good friend Grace Lin got an early morning phone call today because...





I am so excited...and so happy for her!!!

2010 Newbery & Caldecott Winners

American Library Association Announces Literary Award Winners

Three of my favorite pictures books of 2009 have received Caldecott Awards!!!
Winner of the 2010 Caldecott Medal:
The Lion and the Mouse
by Jerry Pinkney
2010 Caldecott Honor Award Recipients
Red Sings from Treetops:
A Year in Colors
Written by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Written by Liz Garton Scanlon
Illustrated by Marla Frazee

Friday, January 15, 2010

MOUSE: An Original Acrostic Poem

Mice have been characters in many memorable children's books--Leo Lionni's Frederick, Stuart Little, Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and picture books by Kevin Henkes--including Owen, Chrysanthemum, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, and Julius, the Baby of the World.

With cute little literary rodents in mind, I give you the following acrostic that I wrote many years ago.

Mitten-footed forager

Out on a midnight adventure,

Unheard, unseen, in the whisper-soft dark,

Scurrying about the house,

Eking out a meal.


At Blue Rose Girls, I have Winter Dusk by Walter de la Mare.

Mary Ann's got the Poetry Friday Round Up at Great Kid Books today.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Black History Month: Book Lists & Other Resources

I thought I'd post my list of resources for Black History Month early this year.

Book Lists

Other Resources for Black History Month

From Wild Rose Reader
Following are links to some of my previous posts at Wild Rose Reader that include recommendations and reviews of poetry books and picture book biographies for Black History Month:

Edited to add: More Books & Resources for Black History Month 2010 (Wild Rose Reader)


Here is a cento I wrote in the voice of Harriet Tubman for Black History Month in 2008. In the cento, I used only the titles of books written by African American authors or books about the African American experience…with one exception—Come with Me, a book of poems that was written by Naomi Shihab Nye. (I’ve printed the book titles in italics in my poem.)
A Cento for Harriet Tubman
by Elaine Magliaro
My Brown Angels,
Listen to The Distant Talking Drum.
Hear it Spin a Soft Black Song
Under the Quilt of Night.
I’m Only Passing Through,
Goin’ Someplace Special
To The Other Side
Where there’s A Sweet Smell of Roses
And Freedom Like Sunlight.
I’ve Seen the Promised Land
A place for All the Colors of the Race.
Now Is Your Time
To be Freedom Walkers.
Follow me on The Road North
To Liberty Street.
Come with Me
To The Other Side
Where we will Make a Joyful Sound.
We will Lift Every Voice and Sing
Sing to the Sun.
Sing Free at Last!
Hush by Jacqueline Woodson
Brown Angels by Walter Dean Myers
The Distant Talking Drum by Isaac Olaleye
Spin a Soft Black Song by Nikki Giovanni
Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah Hopkinson
Only Passing Through by Anne Rockwell
Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia C. Mckissack
The Other Side by Angela Johnson
A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson
Freedom Like Sunlight by J. Patrick Lewis
I’ve Seen the Promised Land by Walter Dean Myers
All the Colors of the Race by Arnold Adoff
Now Is Your Time! by Walter Dean Myers
Freedom Walkers by Russell Freedman
The Road North by Bettye Stroud
Liberty Street by Candice F. Ransom
Come with Me by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
Make a Joyful Sound: Poems for Children by African-American Poets edited by Deborah Slier
Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson
Sing to the Sun by Ashley Bryan
Free at Last! By Doreen Rappaport

Friday, January 8, 2010

Winter Poems

We've had quite a lot of snow so far this year up in my neck of the woods. I'm in winter mode. Here are some of my original poems about the season. Many have been posted at Wild Rose Reader before.


After the blizzard
snowmen are sprouting up
like winter wildflowers

Sleet tap-dances
on my roof, clicks its icy heels
on my windowpane

Snowflakes fluttering
from a wintry sky…a flock
of white butterflies

With his frosty feet
little mouse prints a message
in the snow: Hello!

Like stars shaken from
The sky, snowflakes whirling down
In white galaxies
A snowman shadow
paints himself in blue upon
a cold white canvas

Two Quatrains

Snow dropped by…
and here am I
catching flakes
of falling sky!

While I slumbered
Through the night
Winter turned
My whole world white.

More Winter Poems

Winter Ballet

It’s white snow,
Bright snow,
Soft-as-feathers light snow…
Tiny ballerinas there
Pirouetting through the air
With their shiny crystal shoes
In their winter dance debuts.

Pond in Winter

The meadow pond lies silent, still…
Sealed in tight by winter’s chill.
A downy quilt of fallen snow
Hides a cold, dark world below.
I wonder all the winter through:
“What do fish and turtles do?”

Winter White
(Inspired by Joyce Sidman's Red Sings from Treetops.)

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 windowpaneswith frosty fingertips.
It whispers through icy lips,
sounds like a ghost
shivering in cold blue shadows.

Bedtime in Winter

Dark comes early.
Night is long.
Mommy sings
A bedtime song.
I am snuggled
Down and deep
Beneath soft covers.
While I sleep,
I have my teddy bear
To hold.
He keeps me warm
When nights are cold.

(I have written many different versions of this poem over the years. I'm not sure I've got it right yet.)

Snow whisperd down so soft and light
I didn't hear it come last night.
A white coat covers everything--
The porch, the walk, my tire swing.

My yard looks like a polar bear
Wrapped up in her creamy hair...
All snuggled warm inside her skin
That will not let the winter in.

At Blue Rose Girls I have a poem by Sarah Orne Jewett titled A Country Boy in Winter.
Tricia has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Best Children's Books of 2009

Looking Back at Some of the Best Children's Books of 2009
School Library Journal’s Best Children’s Books of 2009
The Best Children’s Books of 2009 (Kirkus Reviews)
Best Illustrated Books of 2009 (New York Times)
Notable Children’s Books of 2009 (New York Times)
Best Children’s Books of 2009 (Publishers Weekly)
The Best Children’s Books of 2009 (Kirkus Reviews)
Best Children’s Books in 2009 (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
The Best Kids’ Books of the Year (Washington Post)
The Best Children’s Books of 2009 (The Seattle Times)
Children’s Books 2009—100 Titles for Reading and Sharing (New York Public Library)
Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth, 2009 (1/1/2010)
Top of the List (Booklist Editors’ Choice: 2009)
2009 Starred Books Wrap-up by Elizabeth Bluemle (Publishers Weekly, 12/10/2009)

A Few Extras
Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards: Videos of the 2009 Ceremony
Black History Preview: 2009 by Joanne Wilkinson (Booklist, 12/15/2009)
The Booklist Interview: Matt Phelan by Ian Chipman & Gillian Enberg (1/1/2010)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 Cybils Poetry Finalists

So sorry I haven’t posted for over a week. I was in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for a few days saying goodbye to 2009 and toasting in the New Year with close friends. I didn’t have Internet access. I did have lots of great food, delicious bubbly, and plenty of good laughs while I was away.

This year I’m serving as a Round II Judge on the Cybils Poetry Panel. You can read more about the finalists here: Cybils Poetry Finalists 2009.

2009 Cybils Poetry Finalists

African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways
written by Avis Harley
with photographs by Deborah Noyes

The Bill Martin Jr Big Book of Poetry
edited by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson

The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme
written by Bobbi Katz
illustrated by Adam McCauley

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
written by Joyce Sidman
illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Click here to read my review of Red Sings from Treetops.

The Tree That Time Built:
A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination
selected by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston,
illustrated by Barbara Fortin

Click here to read my review of The Tree That Time Built.


2009 Cybils Poetry Panelists

Panelists (Round I Judges):
Bruce Black, Wordswimmer
Kristy Dempsey, Reverie--Abstract Musings on a Hopeful Life
Kelly Fineman (see panel organizer)
Tricia Stohr-Hunt, The Miss Rumphius Effect
Sylvia Vardell, Poetry for Children

Judges (Round II):
Sara Lewis Holmes, Read Write Believe
Elaine Magliaro, Wild Rose Reader
Greg Pincus, GottaBook
Jama Rattigan, Alphabet Soup
Stacey Shubitz, Two Writing Teachers