Friday, February 26, 2010

MARCH: An Original Acrostic

I got a late start with my Poetry Friday plans. We had a wild wind and rainstorm here yesterday. I lost Internet access. Fortunately, I figured out how to get my wireless reconnected this morning by turning off all our computers, pulling out the connector to the router, and rebooting the modem. So relieved! I can't live without the Internet and email.

Now on to POETRY...

Last September, I was reading through all the acrostic poems that I had written. Several of them touched on the theme of spring. That gave me the idea to write a collection of spring acrostics that takes one through the season from March to June. The collection now contains twenty-one poems. It includes acrostics about the following subjects: hibernation, crocus, bud, sky, peeper, showers, puddles, mud, seeds, apple tree, pollen, nectar, and dragonfly. Some of the acrostics still need a bit of work.

As spring is waiting at the door and March is raring to go, I thought I’d post the first poem in the collection, which is tentatively titled Spring into Words: A Season in Acrostics.

Maybe I’ll
Roaring like a lion and
Chase spring away with my frosty breath until I
Hear April purring in my ear.


At Political Verses, I have a new post: Two Rhyming Verses for Creationists.

At Blue Rose Girls, I posted February Twilight by Sara Teasdale for my mother who turned 92 on Wednesday.

Jone has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Check It Out.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Women's History Month 2010: Book Lists and Resources

Books Lists

Other Resources

From Wild Rose Reader

Two Books I Recommend for Women’s History Month

The Sky’s the Limit: Stories of Discovery by Women and Girls
Written by Catherine Thimmesh
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin, 2002

Women written about in this book include:
Vera Rubin—Dark Matter
Denise Schmandt-Besserat—Origins of Writing & Counting
Donna Shirley— Manager of Mars Exploration Team that Built Sojourner Rover
Jane Goodall—Ethologist & Chimpanzee Expert
Mary Anning—Fossil Hunter & Dinosaur Expert
Sue Hendrickson—Fossil Hunter
Anna Sofaer—Discovered the Sun Dagger site in Chaco Canyon & Founder of The Solstice Project
Mary Leakey--Paleoanthropolgist

Chapter Three provides brief glimpses of inquisitive young girls who thought outside the box. The back matter of The Sky’s the Limit includes a Selected Timeline of Discoveries by Women from the 1300s to 2000 and Web site resources.

Look Inside the Book ...

Awards and Honors
2003 Minnesota Book Award for Children's Nonfiction
Smithsonian Notable Book 2002
Outstanding Science and Social Studies Trade Book for Children 2002

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women
Written by Catherine Thimmesh
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin, 2000

Here’s a list of the women that Thimmesh writes about in this book:
Ruth Wakefield—Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mary Anderson—Windshield Wipers
Stephanie Kwolek—Kevlar
Patsy O. Sherman—Scotchgard
Grace Murray Hopper—Computer Compiler
Bette Nesmith Graham—Liquid Paper
Ann Moore—Snugli
Margaret E. Knight—Paper Bags
Jeanne Lee Crews—Space Bumper
Valerie L. Thomas—Illusion Transmitter

The sections about the women inventors are concise and filled with interesting information about their inventions—some of which came about by accident…like chocolate chip cookies and Scotchgard.

The book ends with the section called Girls (Even the Young Ones) Think of Everything. In this section, you can read about Becky Schroeder, a ten-year-old girl who “created a tool that enabled people to write in the dark.” The tool is called the Glo-sheet. You’ll also find out about the no-spill feeding bowl invented by eleven-year-old Alexia Abernathy.

Look Inside the Book ...

Awards and Honors
2001 IRA Children's Book Award
Children's Book of the Month Club Best Nonfiction Book 2000
Minnesota Book Award finalist
Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children 2001
Smithsonian Notable Book 2000

2010 Bank Street College Children's Book Awards Announced!

The Children’s Book Committee of Bank Street College’s School of Education has announced its 2010 book awards. It will be honoring the five books at its annual breakfast and ceremony on March 18th.

I was thrilled when I found out that my good friend Grace Lin had received yet another acknowledgement for her Newbery Honor Winner Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Grace’s book and Jacqueline Kelly’s The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate share this year's Josette Frank Award for Fiction.

About the Josette Frank Award: “This award is given each year to honor a book or books of outstanding literary merit in which children or young people deal in a positive and realistic way with difficulties in their world and grow emotionally and morally.”

The 2010 Claudia Lewis Poetry Award Winner is Joyce Sidman’s Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors. This fine poetry book, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, is also the recipient of a Caldecott Honor Award and the 2009 Cybils Poetry Award.

Click here to find out what other wonderful children’s books were honored by Bank Street College this year.
Congratulations to all the award winners!

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Cat Is in Love with the Goldfish

On Wednesday, a package I had been waiting for arrived from across the Atlantic. The package contained several copies of My Cat Is in Love with the Goldfish and Other Loopy Love Poems, a new anthology of light verse that was just published in the UK. The book was compiled by British poet and anthologist Graham Denton.

My Cat Is in Love with the Goldfish
Chosen by Graham Denton
A & C Black, 2010

Most of the poets whose works are included in the book are British—but there are also poems by a few Americans—J.Patrick Lewis, Kenn Nesbitt—and me.

The anthology is divided into eight different sections:

- Animal Magnetism
The Stuff of Fairy Tales
- Doomed Love
Monster Love
A Perfect Match
- The Food of Love
Monster Love
Do You Love Me or Do You Not?

I Wish I had Your Picture… (Anonymous) can be found in Animal Magnetism.

I wish I had your picture—
It would be very nice.
I’d hang it in the attic
To scare away the mice.

Not exactly what you were expecting in the way of a LOVE poem?

Maybe you’ll find my poem Jack and June, which is included in The Stuff of Fairy Tales, a bit more romantic:

by Elaine Magliaro

Jack and June went to the moon,

Crash-landed in a crater.

Jack broke his nose and seven toes.

(He’s a crummy navigator!)


Jack cried in pain. June tried in vain

To soothe her injured mate.

She bound his toes and kissed his nose

And asked him for a date.


Jack and June began to swoon…

Fell mad in love and they

Returned to Earth, their place of birth…

And wed the very next day.

Also included in The Stuff of Fairy Tales is Rapunzel! Rapunzel! by Kenn Nesbitt.

From Rapunzel! Rapunzel!

"Rapunzel! Rapunzel! You've cut off your hair!
Your billowing tresses are no longer there.
That mohawk you're sporting is spiky and pink.
I'm really not certain just what I should think.

"I came here expecting to clamber a braid,
ascending your tower to come to your aid.
Instead I have suffered the greatest of shocks
to find that you've cut off your lovely blonde locks."

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Graham Denton has a humorous couplet of his own in A Perfect Match section.

On the Very First Valentine’s Day
by Graham Denton

What the caveman gave his missus—
Lots and lots of Ughs and kisses.

I think Monster Love may be the favorite section of the anthology with young kids.

Colin West’s Sir Hector gives you a flavor of Monster Love.

From Sir Hector
by Colin West

Sir Hector was a spectre
And he loved a lady ghost;
At midnight he’d collect her
And he’d drive her to the coast.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

In Monster Love, Tony Mitton has a poem called Valientine.

Here’s an excerpt from it:

An alien valentine in verse
from elsewhere in the universe.
(Heaven above. It must be love)

Dear Alien, I love you
with your 13 legs
and your hair so blue
and your beautiful tentacles
covered with goo.

A sampling of titles of other poems included in the book:
Pig’s Song of Courtship
(John Mole), The Skunk and the Porcupine (Kenn Nesbitt), Dragon Love Poem (Roger Stevens), Deadly Affectionate (Trevor harvey), Sheila Shorter Sought a Suitor (Anon), Love at First Bite (Andy Seed), Dancing with Frankenstein (Robert Scotellaro), and Love Letter—from the Wizard to the Witch (John Foster).

My Cat is in Love with the Goldfish is certainly full of lots of “loopy love poems” that will make kids chuckle.


At Blue Rose Girls, I have the poem Thumbprint by Eve Merriam—as well as a discussion about innate talent and my road to writing children’s poetry.

Irene has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Live. Love. Explore!

Monday, February 15, 2010

2009 Cybils Winners Announced!

I served as a Round II Cybils Poetry Judge. Here’s the book that won the 2009 Cybils Poetry Award. It's an exceptional book of poetry and art! It is also a recipient of a 2010 Caldecott Honor Award.

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

Observation, discovery, connection . . . Red Sings From the Treetops embodies everything poetry is meant to be. The vivid words of poet Joyce Sidman -- which are fresh even when writing about the oldest of concepts, color -- and the gloriously hue-soaked pictures of illustrator Pamela Zagarenski combine to create a poetry book that is both thoughtful and exuberant. Readers can hunt for small details in the sweep of larger images and thrill to a-ha! moments of discovery. They can read the book as one full, circular story or as a series of individual, eye-opening poems. Either way, the beauty of this book will leave them feeling connected to something larger than themselves.

Click here to find out which books won awards in all categories.
Read all about the Cybils Awards here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Poetry Books about Winter

It's still winter--that's for sure. Here are some short reviews of poetry books about winter activities and winter case you're looking for some poems about the coldest season to share with children.

Winter Eyes
Written & illustrated by Douglas Florian
Greenwillow, 1999

Winter Eyes is one of my favorite Douglas Florian books. It was also a poetry favorite in my elementary school library. The collection contains twenty-eight poems about all kinds of wintertime subjects—sledding, icicles, ice fishing, animal tracks in the snow, sugaring time, ice skating, animals in underground burrows, and cabin fever. It includes concrete and list poems. Most of the poems are short, rhyming, rhythmic..

The first poem in the book, Winter Eyes, begins this way:

Look at winter
With winter eyes,
As smoke curls from rooftops
To clear cobalt skies.

In The Winter Sun, Florian personifies the star of our solar system. The sun’s “a grumpy guy” who “doesn’t speak.”

He hovers near the naked trees,
His blanket from the sky’s big freeze,
And barely dares to lift his head
Before he’s ordered back to bed.
Winter Eyes is a poetry book that's fun reading from cover to cover.

Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic
Written by Steven Schnur
Illustrated by
Leslie Evans

This is the last in Schnur’s series of seasonal acrostic books. Both Schnur's poems and Evans' hand-colored linoleum block print illustrations evoke the chill of winter out of doors and the warmth and coziness of sitting by a fire or snuggling on a couch under a blanket indoors in winter. The book opens with a poem about the beginning of a new day:

At dawn, a thick
White frost covers the lawn
As the steaming
Kettle whistles
Everyone up.

Outside it’s C-O-L-D!

Of ice as delicate as
Lace ring the
Duck pond.

The poems gives readers a good overview of the winter season.There are acrostics about deer in an orchard, a flurry of snowflakes, a father gathering kindling, hibernating animals, pine trees in moonlight, ice skating, and boiling vats of maple sap. The collection closes with a few poems about the end of winter and coming of spring.

You can view three of the interior illustrations from the book here.

Winter Poems
Selected by Barbara Rogasky
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
You can read my 2007 review of Winter Poems here: POETRY FRIDAY: Winter in Poems & Paintings

Snow, Snow: Winter Poems for Children
Written by
Jane Yolen
Photographs by Jason Stemple

Pictures of snow that her son Jason Stemple took in Colorado served as Yolen’s inspiration for the thirteen poems in this book. The collection begins with the poem What’s Left of Fall and a picture of fallen leaves covered with snow crystals. Here are the first six lines of the poem:
Crisp leaf litter
Under snowy glitter;

Crumpled and brown
Letters thrown down;

The last bit of shade
From autumn’s parade

Subjects of other poems in the book include a skiing, snow on the trees, a snowmobile, footprints in the snow, and a river wrapped in “ermine robes.”

Snow, Snow closes with A Cold Finger—the finger being the “mittenless” branch of a tree that is pointing the way toward spring.

Once Upon Ice and Other Frozen Poems
Selected by
Jane Yolen
Photographs by Jason Stemple

For this anthology, Jane Yolen asked a number of poets “to look at Jason Stemple’s eerily wonderful photographs of ice formations and write whatever the photos inspired." Poets whose works you’ll find in this book include Kathi Appelt, X. J. Kennedy, Mary Ann Hoberman, Ann Turner, Lee Bennett Hopkins, J. Patrick Lewis, Nancy Willard, and Jane Yolen. The poems are written in a variety of styles. Some are filled with imagery; some are rhythmic and rhyming—like Mary Ann Hoberman’s poem Ice Cycle:

I’ve always thought it rather nice
That water freezes into ice.
I’m also pleased that it is true
That ice melts back to water too.
But even so I find it strange
The way that ice and water change
And how a single water drop
Can fathom when it’s time to stop
Its downward drip and go ahead
And start an icicle instead.
Jason Stemple's photographs are sure to send chills down readers' spines. The book is a lovely pairing of poetry and pictures.
At Blue Rose Girls, I have a humorous poem by Ogden Nash titled Common Cold.

Lee Wind has the Poetry Friday Roundup at I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Here & There and The 2010 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Winners

2010 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Winners Announced!
Thanks to Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children for information about the 2010 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award winner and honor books:

Button Up! Wrinkled Rhymes
Written by Alice Schertle
Illustrated by Petra Mathers

Button Up! is a delightful collection of mask poems in which articles of clothing and footwear speak from their points of view.
Click here to read my review of Button Up!.

Honor Books

A Curious Collection of Cats
Written by Betsy Franco
Illustrated by Michael Wertz
(Tricycle Press, 2009)

This is a cleverly illustrated book of visual poems about cats for children.

Click here to see Michael Wertz’s colorful illustrations (and Franco’s poems) from this book on flickr.

Crossing Stones
Written by Helen Frost
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009)

The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination
Selected by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston
(Sourcebooks, 2009)

This is an exceptional anthology that connects poetry and science. The book contains more than one hundred poems. It truly is a celebration of our world, of nature and imagination—and of Darwin’s Tree of Life.

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

Here & There

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Children's Author & Illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka to be the Featured Speaker at the Winter Meeting of the Massachusetts PAS North Shore Council

Jarrett J. Krosoczka

PAS North Shore Council Winter Dinner Meeting
March 10, 2010
Salem, Massachusetts
5:00 pm

About Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Jarrett J. Krosoczka grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts, and attended the Rhode Island School of Design. He graduated from RISD in 1999—and had signed a contract for his first children’s book within six months of his graduation. Since 2001, Jarrett has written and illustrated nine picture books—including Punk Farm, Max for President, My Buddy Slug, Baghead, and Good Night, Monkey Boy. Jarrett embarked on a new path in his successful career with the 2009 publication of his first two graphic novels—Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute and Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians. Universal Pictures has picked up the Lunch Lady series for a movie project. Amy Poehler has signed on to star in the film adaptation of the books, which focus on "a mild-mannered school cafeteria server who secretly dishes out helpings of justice as she and her assistant investigate wrongdoings. The books also feature three kids who try to figure out her double life." Jarrett’s books have been short-listed by Newsweek, USA Today, The Boston Globe, and The New York Times.

Information about the Winter Dinner Meeting of the PAS North Shore Council of IRA
Our council’s winter dinner meeting will be held on March 10th at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Massachusetts. The meeting will begin at 5:00 with a social hour during which Jarrett will sign books. Attendees can purchase a number of Jarrett’s books at the hotel. (Note: Payment for books must be made in cash or by check.)The meeting will begin at 5:00 with a social hour during which Jarrett will sign books. Attendees will be able to purchase a number of Jarrett's most popular books at the hotel. (Note: Payment for books must be made in cash or by check.)

The cost for our March dinner is $42 for members and $51 for non-members.

Dinner Choices
  • Chicken Breast Stuffed with Apples and Pecans, served with maple Dijon Sauce
  • Roasted New England Cod with Pumpkin Seed Crust and Red Onion Marmalade
If you are interested in attending our March dinner, email me. I have extra copies of the registration form. The deadline for registration is February 26, 2010.

Two New Poems at Political Verses

I have two new poems at Political Verses.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More Books & Resources for Black History Month 2010

Books & Resources


Poetry for Black History Month

Sweethearts of Rhythm:
The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World

Written by Marilyn Nelson
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

You can read the Booklist review here.
You can read more about the book here.

The Poetry of Music: An Interview with Marilyn Nelson (School Library Journal, 10/29/2009)
Interview with Marilyn Nelson (The Brown Bookshelf)
Click here to listen to Marilyn Nelson read her poem A Wreath for Emmett Till.


My People
Written by Langston Hughes
Photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr.

You can read the School Library Journal review here.


Becoming Billie Holiday
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Art by Floyd Cooper

You can read about the book and learn about Billie Holiday here.
Author Interview: Carole Boston Weatherford on Becoming Billie Holiday (Cynsations)
Becoming Billie Holiday: Blog Tour (The Brown Bookshelf)


Poems to Celebrate Black History Month (Poetry Foundation)
Langston Hughes (The Academy of American Poets)
Phillis Wheatley (The Academy of American Poets)
Paul Laurence Dunbar (The Academy of American Poets)
Black History (The Academy of American Poets)

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Red Riding Hood Fairy Tale Poem

Back in 1994-1995, I took a year’s leave of absence from my teaching job when I was invited to travel to the People’s Republic of China with an educational delegation. I was in China for just a couple of weeks. That was a year when we were also doing major renovations on our house—so I really needed to be around much of the time. Once the contractor and his workers were finished, I had a lot of free time. I decided to spend it writing children’s poetry.

Every school year, I used to do an extensive unit on folklore in my classroom. Some years, my students even wrote fairy tale poems. Their fairy tale poems inspired me to write my own collection, Excerpts from the Fairy Tale Files, while I was at home on leave. Here’s one of the fairy tale poems that I wrote in the form of a Question & Answer:

Q: Who tricked Little Red Riding Hood?

A: The wolf who waited in the wood.

He coaxed sweet Red to pick wildflowers,

Then sneaked away and GULP! devoured

Dear old Granny, jumped in bed

With Granny’s bonnet on his head.

The wolf, alas, was not yet through.

When Red arrived, he ate her, too!

His belly full, his eyelids closed.

He licked his chops and, snoring, dozed.

Anon, a whistling huntsman passed.

He heard loud snoring, was aghast

To find the wolf in deep repose,

All gussied up in Granny’s clothes.

The huntsman raised his knife and cut

A deep slit in the culprit’s gut.

Then out crawled Granny, Little Red.

All three pronounced the sly wolf dead.


At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by Trish Crapo titled Back Then--a poem about childhood and innocence.

At Political Verses, I have a new poem: Who Dat Hangin' at da Laundromat?

Mary Ann has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Great Kids Books.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chinese New Year: Book Lists & Resources

Book Lists

Crafts, Activities, & Resources

Edited to Add: Chinese New Year craft ideas from Grace Lin:
Chinese Traditional Literature and Literary Tales

Chinese Mother Goose Rhymes
Selected & Edited by Robert Wyndham
Pictures by Ed Young

The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale
Written by Laurence Yep
Pictures by Kam Yak
Click here to browse inside the book.

The Emperor and the Kite
Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Ed Young

The Empty Pot
Written & Illustrated by Demi

From the Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character
at the Boston University School of Education—
The Empty Pot: A Lesson about Integrity

The Empty Pot: A Video

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China
Written & Illustrated by Ed Young

From Scholastic—Lon Po Po: A Chinese Fairytale Lesson Plan
Click here for more story extension suggestions.


Ming Lo Moves the Mountain
Written & Illustrated by Arnold Lobel

From Scholastic: Ming lo Moves the Mountain Teaching Plan
From Scholastic: Ming Lo Moves the Mountain Discussion Guide

The Seven Chinese Brothers
Written by Margaret Mahy
Illustrated by Jean & Mou-sien Tseng


Stone Soup
Retold & Illustrated by Jon J Muth
Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China
Retold by Ai-Ling Louie
Illustrated by Ed Young