Saturday, July 31, 2010

An ALA Award for Children's Poetry? What Do You Think?

There’s a discussion going on over at A Fuse #8 Production about whether ALA/ALSC should create a new award for children’s poetry.

Baby Wants Another New Award: Poetry Time!
By Elizabeth Bird

Here’s an excerpt:
An ALA award for children’s poetry?

It doesn’t exist, you see. Yes, I was as shocked as you when I thought about it. Joyce Sidman fools us by having her illustrators win Caldecotts left and right, but that doesn’t mean that the poetry itself is winning. Pretty sneaky, Sids.

Lee Bennett Hopkins drew my attention to this gap in our awardin’ saying, “RE: Your plea for a new ALA Award. Are you aware that there never has been an ALA award for POETRY? Methinks that should happen before a Graphic Novel Award.” I don’t see why we can’t have both (though perhaps not a Graphic Novel Poetry Award, as such a book for kids does not yet exist).

Mr. Hopkins then let me know that for years the only approximate award out there was the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, established in 1977, which he chaired twice and won last year. He went on to say, “I was adamant there should be an award for poetry, thus I founded the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award in 1993. After many years it is now given by Penn State University as part of PLA; it is an annual award with a cash prize of $1,000.00; the only award of its kind in the nation. More angry, in 1998, I founded the Lee Bennett Hopkins/IRA Poetry Award given every three years to a poet who has published no more than two volumes. The last, 2010, was Greg Neri, who you recently blogged about regarding his new graphic novel.”

Should ALA have an award for children’s poetry? What do you think? Go on over and join the discussion.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Things to Do If You Are a Castle: An Original List Poem

Well, I’m nearly finished with my Things to Do poetry collection. At the moment, the collection includes twenty-seven poems. I’m thinking of adding one or two more. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve changed the manuscript a lot in recent months. I’ve eliminated several of the original poems and added fourteen new ones. The Things to Do collection now takes a young child through a school day from dawn to bedtime. I believe it is a more cohesive collection of poems now. I’m hoping to submit it to a publisher by summer’s end.

I want to acknowledge three individuals for giving me invaluable advice on this writing project:
  • Grace Lin helped me to look at my Things to Do collection with new eyes. Grace gave me the suggestion for changing the focus of the manuscript. That suggestion renewed my energy for working on the poetry project again. It inspired me to write lots of new poems.
  • Janet Wong read through my manuscript and carefully critiqued it. She suggested eliminating particular poems and gave me topic suggestions for new poems. Janet’s suggestions helped me to provide better “poetry” transitions throughout the collection.
  • Brad Bennett sat with me as we went through each poem with a fine-tooth comb a few days ago. I can always count on Brad to help me with the tiniest details. (Brad is a teacher and published poet. You can read three of Brad’s list poems here.)


Here is one of the things to do poems that is no longer included in the collection. I was thinking of my daughter and her new husband when I selected the following poem. They recently returned from their honeymoon in Ireland--where they visited lots of castles.


Stand on a stony cliff
overlooking the sea.
Wear a thick wall of armor.
Sprout tall turrets.
Be a haven.
Drop your drawbridge
for damsels in distress.
Shelter proud steeds,
brave knights who do good deeds.
Be a fortress, a bulwark.
Grow strong and stout.
Keep the evil invaders out.


At Blue Rose Girls, I have a sonnet by Mary Meriam titled The Romance of Middle Age.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Live. Love. Explore!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Beverly Cleary Post

From NPR

Ramona Quimby: The Mischievous Girl Next Door by Elizabeth Blair.

Click here to listen to a radio program about Beverly Cleary on Morning Addition.

Beverly Cleary, Getting the Best Out of Her 'Pest'

Listen to Debbie Elliott’s 2006 interview with Beverly Cleary on All Things Considered:

More about Beverly Cleary and Her Books

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Here & There: July 27, 2010

Liz B’s blog A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy has moved. It is now a School Library Journal blog. Here is its new URL—

Liz said: “For the most part, it's same blog, still me, just at a new location. I will be concentrating more on young adult books, ages twelve and up, and less on picture books and books for younger readers.”
You can read her announcement here.

From MotherReader (7/20/2010):
By now, many of you have heard of the blog Ripple, where illustrators donate their art for donations to causes to help the wildlife in the Gulf Coast disaster. I’ve been following the project since the beginning, and am excited to report that it has raised over $8,500 in funds — most of it one $10 card at a time. I have five myself.

Read the rest of MotherReader’s Making Ripples post here.

More on the blog Ripple from School Library Journal: Children's Illustrators Help Save Gulf Oil Spill Wildlife Victims
By Debra Lau Whelan July 20, 2010

From Publishers Weekly: Fall 2010 Children's Announcements

From Publishers Weekly: Children's Books: Spring 2011 Sneak Previews

From School Library Journal: Booksellers Oppose MA Law That Extends Censorship On the Web
By SLJ Staff July 22, 2010


A coalition of booksellers and first amendment supporters is trying to block a new Massachusetts law that aims to protect kids from online predators, but also bans constitutionally protected speech, including topics like contraception and pregnancy, sexual health, literature, and art.

The lawsuit--filed by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and others--says the new law, signed in April by Governor Patrick and which went into effect last week, imposes severe restrictions on the distribution of constitutionally protected speech on the Internet.
The goal? To have the law declared unconstitutional and void--and to enjoin the state from enforcing it on the basis of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and the Constitution's Commerce Clause.

Under the law, anyone who operates a website or communicates through a listserv can be held criminally liable for nudity or sexually related material if it's considered "harmful to minors." In short, it bans from the Internet anything that may be "harmful to minors," including materials that adults have a First Amendment right to view.

Those who break the law can be fined $10,000 or sentenced to up to five years in prison, or both. "[This] will certainly have a chilling effect on booksellers with websites that describe their books available online or in a store," says Chris Finan, President of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE). "Most bookstores are small businesses, and it is very likely that booksellers will try to avoid problems by engaging in selfcensorship."

On the Poetry Front

From BookPageMirror, mirror, on the wall: poetry books for one and all
Feature by Alice Cary

New Poetry Books for Young People 2005-2010
By Sylvia M. Vardell, Ph.D.

School News Spotlight: Sharing Children's Poetry 101
By Julie Corsaro
This interview with Sylvia Vardell originally appeared in the May 2010 edition of NoveList School News.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Things to Do If You Are a Mountain: An Original List Poem

As some of you may have noticed I’ve been blogging “light” in recent months. I haven’t posted a book review in a long time. Now that my mother is settled in her new residence and my daughter’s wedding is in the past—maybe my life will return to normal once again. I’m hoping I’ll get myself back into my regular blogging groove soon.

I always try to post on Poetry Fridays. For this week, I selected another one of my “things to do” list poems that I’ve scrubbed from my Things to Do collection.


Wear a snow-white cap
and a thick coat of evergreens.
Scratch your stony back with glaciers.
Tower over the tops of other mountains.
Let the sun sparkle on your summit.
Hide drowsing bears
in your deep brown pockets.
At night
poke your head above the clouds
and peek at the stars.


The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Language, Literacy, Love.
You may want to view the video I posted at my Political Verses blog today--Sarah Palin's Geography Song: Fifty Nifty States. It's pretty funny!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Wedding Day to Remember!!!

Even though I took more than 160 photographs during "wedding weekend"--I wish I had taken even more! Of course, if I had taken more pictures, I wouldn't have had time to dance, talk to our wedding guests, and experience the time of my life. The food at the reception was delicious--but I hardly ate anything. I was too excited...and too busy having fun.
Sara & Her Husband with George Harrington

The Lyceum in Salem, Massachusetts, was the perfect place for Sara and Jerry's wedding reception. I have known George Harrington, one of the owners, for many years. I had his youngest child as an elementary student for second and third grades. My daughter worked as a busgirl and as a waitress at The Lyceum when she was in high school and college. The Lyceum is also one of our family's favorite places to eat. The staff at The Lyceum knows our family--and went out of their way to make sure Sara's wedding day was a truly memorable one. (Click here to read our wedding day menu.)
A big shout-out to Kristin Hansen, the function coordinator at The Lyceum, who was such a pleasure to work with!

Flowers by Nunan's of Georgetown, MA
I wish I had also taken pictures of the smaller floral arrangements on the cafe tables--
but I forgot. They were really lovely too.
My daughter and I both love hydrangeas!

Wedding Cake by Cakes for Occasions in Danvers, MA
The cake was the most delicious wedding cake I have ever tasted.
Wedding guests raved about it!
You can read more about the flavors of the cake here.

Some Pre-Wedding Pictures
Here I am with the mother of the groom.

We got Sara's beautiful wedding gown and veil at French Bridals in Beverly, MA

Sara and the rest of "the gals"--
including the mother of the groom and me--
rode to the church on the trolley.

I wish I knew the bagpiper's name. He was fabulous!
Unfortunately, he was not allowed to play his pipes inside the church.
Meet Mr. & Mrs. Murphy!

Pictures taken at Derby Wharf

At The Lyceum
Sara & her dad dancing to a Sarah McLachlan song
Sara and Jerry are honeymooning in Ireland for two weeks.
I have so many happy memories of my daughter's wedding day. I wish I could relive the experience all over again!
Click here to see wedding photos the photographer, Tom Underwood, posted on Facebook. Tom was the best!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Here & There: July 19, 2010

Children's Books at ALA: A PW Photo-Essay (Publishers Weekly, July 2010)
NOTE: The photo-essay includes pictures of my fellow Blue Rose Girls Grace Lin and Alvina Ling.

Story behind the Story: Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan’s Ballet for Martha
The Art of Making Art
by Ilene Cooper (Booklist, July 2010).

Books and Authors: Talking with Cathryn and John Sill by Terrell A. Young and Barbara A. Ward (Book Links, June 2010)
The husband-and-wife creators of painterly picture books about wildlife and nature discuss their collaborative process.

The Summer Reading Network: To keep kids reading during the summer, librarians connect online to share resources (School Library Journal, July 2010)

RIF Reading Planet

Summer Reading Fun (RIF Reading Planet)

Pile them high; it's summer time by Sheila Wayman (Irish Times, 7/13/2010)
School may be over for the summer, but that’s no reason for the reading to stop.

WITH NO school or homework to interrupt them, summer is invariably a time of great discovery for avid young book readers.

It is a chance to try different kinds of books or wallow in a whole series from a favourite author. Some holidays will forever be associated with who or what you found between those pages.
The only downside is likely to be a nagging parent: “What are you doing indoors on a lovely day like this? Put that book down and go out.”

But, according to the director of Children’s Books Ireland, Mags Walsh, “If they are happy reading, let them read. Don’t put any walls or barriers around it.”

Q & A with Grace Lin by Julie Yates Walton (Publishers Weekly, July 2010)

Over the years, author-illustrator Grace Lin has mined her own childhood for funny, upbeat stories that shed light on the unique experience of growing up Asian-American. The past year has been a good one for Lin, with her novel, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, winning a 2010 Newbery Honor and earning a selection on Al Roker's Book Club for Kids. Known for her novels and her vibrantly illustrated picture books, Lin is now reaching out to the audience in between. Her first early reader, Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same, features twin Asian-American girls, and is due out this month from Little, Brown.

NOTE: Grace has garnered another award for her fantasy novel Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Read about it here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Wedding Poem for Sara & Jerry

My Daughter Sara & Her Husband Jerry
Photograph by Tom Underwood

Here is the poem I wrote for my daughter Sara’s wedding.
My inspiration came from Margaret Atwood’s poem You Begin.
Click here to read Atwood’s poem.

Wedding Poem for Sara & Jerry

We begin this way:
this is my hand—
take it in yours,
hold on to it tightly.
Now we are one.
Here is my heart.
It holds rivers of love
that will flow to you freely
this day…and forever.

Outside the church window
summer awaits
with songbirds and sunlight
and shade trees to cool us
when days get too hot.

This is our world—
our family and friends
who know us and love us.
They’re smiling and happy
on our wedding day.

Now we are married…
we’re husband and wife—
we are partners for life.
We will share all our days,
all our sorrows and tears
all our laughter and triumphs
throughout the years.

This is my hand, this is my heart,
this is our world,
ahead is our future
filled with surprises
that we can’t imagine.

It all begins here
with our family and friends
with our promises…vows…
with the taking of hands
and the binding of hearts.

We begin and we end:
Here is my heart.
It holds rivers of love
that will flow to you freely.
This is my hand—
take it in yours,
hold on to it tightly
this day…and forever.
Now we are one.


The Beautiful Bride

Photograph by Tom Underwood

Here's a picture of me with Sara at the Salem Waterfront Hotel.I was so happy I didn't shed a tear on my daughter's wedding day!

Note: We all loved Tom Underwood, the wedding photographer. He took great pictures, was unobtrusive--and was so easy to work with. I recommend him highly.

Click here to view more of the wedding pictures that Tom took.


Heidi Mordhorst has the Poetry Friday Roundup at My Juicy Little Universe.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ramona and Beezus Movie Trailer

One of my all-time favorite characters from children's literature is Ramona Geraldine Quimby. It was such fun reading Beverly Cleary's books about Ramona Q. to my elementary students. They all loved and related to the spunky, creative character who often got herself into mischief without meaning to. The boys liked her just as much as the girls. Ramona came alive for them. It was like she was one of their classmates. My students pestered their parents to take them to the book store so that they could get their own copies of Cleary's books. I hope Hollywood did a good job of bringing the story of Ramona and her family to the big screen.

Visit the Ramona and Beezus Web site at

The movie will be coming to theaters on July 23rd.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some Pictures from Wedding Weekend

We had one terrific "wedding weekend." One of the best parts for me was sharing two days with Sara's six bridesmaids--three of whom are her new sisters-in-law. These ladies all love Sara and have a very special relationship with her. The camaraderie shared by all of them was a pleasure to witness. Sara's bridesmaids helped to make her wedding day a truly memorable one. In addition, we had lots of laughs together.

Here are some of the pictures I took at the Salem Waterfront Hotel on Friday afternoon and at the rehearsal dinner later that evening:

At the Salem Waterfront Hotel
Sara & I enjoying lunch with her bridesmaids


Friday Evening at the Rehearsal Dinner
My Nieces Carolyn & Christine

My Niece Colby & My Nephew Zack

The Bride: My Daughter Sara

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Special Wedding Day

Despite heat, humidity, the threat of torrential downpours, and a church that felt like a sauna--my daughter Sara's wedding day was truly a grand one indeed. The rain stopped just before the groom, ushers, best man, and father of the bride boarded the trolley that would take them to the church. Fortunately, we were able to have photos taken at Derby Wharf after the wedding ceremony as Sara had planned.
A Picture of me with Sara before she put on her gorgeous wedding gown.
Sara was truly the most beautiful bride I have ever seen in my life!
If you don't believe me, check out the wedding photos that Tom Underwood, the photographer, posted on Facebook.

P. S. The wedding reception was a blast!
I'll probably be posting more of my own pictures later this week.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Things to Do If You Are the Ocean: An Original Poem

My daughter is getting married tomorrow! We're having the wedding rehearsal this evening. Both my daughter’s wedding and reception will take place in historic Salem, Massachusetts—a city that should be remembered for its maritime history…not just because of the infamous witch trials of 1692 that took place there.

(Note: you can find out more about Sara’s wedding reception in A Wild Rose Wedding: What’s on the Menu.)

My daughter grew up near a tidal estuary. There is a lovely seaside park—with two beaches, rolling lawns, shade trees, and a rose garden—in the city where we live. Our family spent many summer days at the park when Sara was young.

My daughter, my husband, and I all love the ocean. We enjoy feeling a cooling sea breeze when the weather is as hot and humid as it has been this past week. We love the sound of the water lapping on the shore…the briny smell of the sea. If the weather is fair tomorrow, we’ll even be taking wedding photos down on Derby Wharf in Salem.

I think you'll be able to figure out why I selected the following “things to do” poem to post today.

by Elaine Magliaro

Wrap yourself in a shawl of sky-blue silk.

Trim its edges with lace.

Embroider it with seabirds and sequins of sunlight.

Lap the rocky shore with your salty tongue.

In summer, cool the burning sands.

Let Moon be your mistress.

Rise and fall at her command.


Find out more about Salem, Massachusetts

Aerial View of Salem

Maritime History of Massachusetts

Take a virtual tour of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Note: Author Nathaniel Hawthorne worked at the Custom House in this city on the North Shore during his term as Surveyor of the Port of Salem from 1846 to 1849.

The Custom House

View from the Custom House


The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Carol’s Corner.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New US Poet Laureate Announced

W. S. Merwin Named US Poet Laureate!

Read more here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Let's Celebrate Grace Lin's First Early Reader--LING & TING

Let's celebrate the publication of Grace Lin's fabulous first early reader--
Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same.
(It has already received four starred reviews!)
Check out Grace's post at Blue Rose Girls for more information.
You'll find links to the book trailer, to an activity guide, and details on how to get yourself a personalized, limited edition bookplate for your Ling & Ting book.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Here & There: July 5, 2010

From The Horn Book July/August 2010 Issue

A Profile of Jerry Pinkney

Rebecca Stead: A New York Story

Coretta Scott King Award Acceptance

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Acceptance


Hot Summer Reads: Here's a mix of novels — graphic, classic, and new — that have absolutely nothing to do with SCHOOL. It’s got a little something for every young reader, including yours. (Scholastic)

Hot Summer Series (Scholastic)

Q & A with Patricia MacLachlan (Publishers Weekly)

Classroom Connections: Titles That Sing and Shine—Books about Light and Sound by Patricia Stohr-Hunt (Book Links)

ALA 2010: The Changing Face of Books for Beginning Readers (School Library Journal)

Chicken Chasing and Barnyard Brouhahas: A Farm Dozen (The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Things to Do If You Are an Orb Spider: An Original Poem & A Poetry Tale

In the past, I’ve posted a number of my “things to do” poems at Wild Rose Reader. Recently, I began reworking my Things to Do poetry collection at the suggestion of my good friend Grace Lin. Grace gave me a wonderful idea for making it a more cohesive collection—an idea for connecting the poems so they are pieces of a “unified” poetry project . She suggested I eliminate certain poems—and write some news one. I got to work right away. Her help spurred me on and gave me renewed energy to work on the collection again. I refined the idea Grace gave me. Now my Things to Do collection takes a young child through a day—from dawn to bedtime.
Here is a picture of me with my literary advisers.
L to R: Me, Janet, and Grace

I emailed my revamped Things to Do manuscript to my poetry adviser Janet Wong for her critique. Janet and I stayed together at ALA. While at our hotel, Janet sat down with me and went through the collection—telling me to eliminate a few more poems, providing me we topics for a couple of “new” ones, and suggesting ways to make a few poems stronger. When I returned home on Monday evening, I got to work on the project once more.
So far, I have now removed eleven poems from the original collection—and added about a dozen new ones. That’s the way it goes with writing a poetry collection sometimes.

Today, I thought I’d post one of the “things to do” poems that is no longer part of the collection. It’s dedicated to Charlotte A. Cavatica—one of my favorite literary characters.


Weave a web of silken strands

With spinnerets

(YOU don’t need hands.)…

A silver net…a sticky snare…

A clever trap that’s light as air.

Weave a web…

Then watch and wait

Upon your woven dinner plate.

No need to hunt to catch your prey.

A meal will soon be on its way


At Blue Rose Girls, I have a book spine poem about friendship that I dedicated to Grace Lin and Janet Wong.
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Poem Farm.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Wild Rose Wedding: What's on the Menu

The Large Room Upstairs at The Lyceum

My husband, daughter Sara, and I decided to have a cocktail party and not a sit-down dinner for Sara’s wedding reception, which will be held at The Lyceum in Salem, Massachusetts—the same place where Grace Lin had her wedding. (Grace had a cocktail party too.) The cocktail parties at The Lyceum are wonderful!
Grace & Alex
NOTE: The Lyceum is housed in an historic building in downtown Salem. Alexander Graham Bell's first public demonstration of the telephone on February 12, 1877, was the most significant event to take place in the Lyceum Hall.

Find out more about The Lyceum here.

About the Food
Maybe you’d like to know what the wedding menu will be?????

We’re going to have four food displays and thirteen passed hot and cold hors d’oeuvres.

Food Displays
Smoked Salmon Platter: A Side of Sullivan Cove Maine Smoked with Classic Accompaniments

Antipasto Platter with Sliced Proscuitto & Salami, Marinated Fresh Mozzarella & Mushrooms, Artichoke Hearts, Provolone Cheese, Tomato & Basil Salad, Cured Olives, Stuffed Sweet Peppers and Assorted Breads

Roasted Vegetable Platter with Zucchini, Summer Squash, Carrots, Eggplant, Onions, Fennel & Mixed Peppers with a Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

Hot Dip Platter with Spinach & Parmesan Dip, Sun-Dried Tomato Dip and Tomato & Artichoke Dip served with Pita Chips, Assorted Breads & Bread Sticks

The Hors D’Oeuvres

  • Blue Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut Sauce
  • Vegetable Spring Roll with Plum Sauce & Japanese Mustard
  • Pork Potsticker Dumpling with Hoisin Sauce Served in an Asian Soup Spoon
  • Sliced Peppered Sirloin with Horseradish Sauce on Crostini
  • Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail
  • Seared Tuna Carpaccio with Crispy Wontons & Japanese Mustard and Pickled Ginger
  • Spanikopita Filled with Spinach and Feta Cheese
  • Clams Casino
  • Coconut Shrimp Tempura with Mango Chutney Sauce
  • Mini Crab Cakes with Ginger Cream, Hoisin Sauce, Mango & Tomato Salsa
  • Lamb Lollipops with Spicy Mint Glaze
  • Skewered Spicy beef with Orange Chipolte Sauce

The Wedding Cake

We're getting the wedding cake from Cakes for Occasions in Danvers, Massachusetts
It will be a three-tier hexagonal cake. The bottom layer will be Chocolate Paradise (chocolate cake soaked with rum syrup and filled with coconut buttercream); the top two layers will be Strawberry-Grand Marnier (vanilla cake soaked with Grand Marnier syrup and filled with Grand Marnier buttercream and fresh sliced strawberries).

The cake will be similar to the one pictured below--but it will be decorated with slate blue ribbons and blue hydrangea.

Click here to see Cakes for Occasion's wedding cake menu.