Halloween picture books and “Flashlight Night”

All images @ 2017 Boyds Mills & Kane, all rights reserved

When I first began writing the rough draft of Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2017), I had no idea what it was. A poem? Picture book? Something else?

It was only once I was about halfway through that I realized I was writing a picture book, and at that point I started making specific decisions about the narrative and pacing. Flashlight, as it was tentatively titled, was going to be bedtime-adventure book told in the second person…a genre and point of view in which few children’s books are written.

I had no idea what to expect.

Much to my surprise, editor Rebecca Davis (at what was Boyds Mills Press at the time) loved what I wrote and offered me my first picture book contract! It was January 2015. Two and a half years later, Flashlight Night made its debut and continues to do well, with parents and bloggers still discovering the book and sharing their positive thoughts about it.

And while I never thought of it as a “Halloween” book, per se, apparently a lot of other folks do! Numerous bloggers and reviewers have been sharing lists of books they feel are perfect for Halloween reading – and I have to say, I’m both surprised and humbled to see my little book showing up beside books written by such authors as Neil Gaiman, Dr. Seuss, Aaron Reynolds, my good friends Charles Ghigna and Patricia Toht, and others.

So, if you’re looking for some Halloween/October-themed books for your little ones, here are a few suggestions:

Thank you so much to all these individuals and groups for sharing their love of reading with the world.

And many thanks to YOU, dear reader, for all your support!

===============================================================

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

===============================================================

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

================================================================

I’ve teamed up with several children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them! Here’s what you can look forward to seeing this month.

================================================================

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

===============================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

================================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

================================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

================================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)

To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) . Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “I’m Feeling Blue, Too!” interview

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of inviting Marjorie Maddox to the ol’ Triple-R as a guest blogger to promote her new book, Inside Out (Kelsay Books). Today, I’m very happy to welcome Marjorie back for a brief interview about her newest book, I’m Feeling Blue, Too! (Resource Publications) and the process behind the craft of putting it together.

Welcome back, Marjorie! It’s so nice to chat with you about a book that’s so different from the one we spotlighted in April. Unlike most picture books, the illustrations for Blue were done first…can you explain the genesis for the project and how you came to be a part of it?

My collaborator, illustrator Philip Huber, began the book I’m Feeling Blue, Too! while in college. (To give you a sense of time, he just retired from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, where I also teach.) Over the years, Philip kept returning to and revising this series that focuses on the color blue.

Now fast forward forty years. As university colleagues, Philip and I had already worked together to help produce the student literary and arts journal. We also had already published our children’s book on collective nouns A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry (Boyds Mills Press, 2008; reprinted Wipf & Stock, 2019), which followed a similar process of illustrations first, poetry second.

Marjorie Maddox

Having returned to his Blue project, Philip again was on the lookout for text to complement his artwork. Whereas our earlier A Crossing of Zebras called for a narrative for each spread, I’m Feeling Blue, Too! necessitated not only a poem per illustration, but also an overarching story for the book. You guessed it—he called me, the poet-in-residence and a creative writing professor at the university!

And I’m so glad he did. It turns out, I’m Feeling Blue, Too! is the first in a colorful trilogy. In addition, Philip has rendered reflections on yellow and on red. As Philip sees it, the trilogy is focused on opposites: “Blue is sad, so [the character] is happy. Yellow [suggests being] frightened, so [the character] exhibits enormous bravery. Red is rage so that character will be calm.” So, yes, although Philip’s first sketches began decades ago, we both see the series continuing into the future!

How long did it take to figure out how you wanted to approach the manuscript, insofar as deciding on a loose narrative and how you wanted to organize the text?

The opening illustration is of a boy and his dog Blue, readying for the day. This was the first poem that I wrote (in fact the poems were written rather quickly in order of the illustrations), and it set the tone for everything to come. I interpreted the scene as a call to wake up, to get going, to get out into the world and explore all aspects of the color blue! I also took it as a play on the word blue (including the connotations of depression or feeling stuck inside—as in the current pandemic). Symbolically, I wanted to fit the poem into a ray of light. And, thus, these words broke through:

(All images © 2020 Resource Publications, all rights reserved, used with permission of the author)

In the last line, I set up the concept of riddles—ways to discover the color blue during one boy’s journey from morning to night.

Philip Huber’s scratchboard illustrations harken back to a more classic style of illustration than we often see today…was there a reason he chose that medium, and do you feel that made a difference in how you responded?

I love Philip’s illustrations, a scratchboard technique that he has developed and refined over the years. It’s a sophisticated, layered (and very time-intensive) version of the crayon-and-ink pictures many of us created in grade school. To me, it’s a bit nostalgic. In addition, the process of scratching off the ink to reveal the beautiful colors beneath— well, it’s perfect for the subject matter of I’m Feeling Blue, Too!

The Trampoline, Flower, and Building Blocks spreads are great examples of the simultaneous energy/action and thoughtfulness that this book offers. Can you tell me your process for writing these three spreads?

Yes. One of the traits that so attracted me to these illustrations is that the boy character is multidimensional. At times full of energy and exuberance, he also loves to contemplate the world around him, as well as create entirely new worlds through his imagination.

Through the artwork, you can certainly experience the joy of jumping on a trampoline, trying so desperately to grab a piece of blue sky. I wanted the poem to capture this sense of elation, of bouncing up and down, of taking off like a rocket ship into the deep blue of possibility. And so I included a poetic countdown with words that jump on the page, grow larger and larger, and eventually “blast off” into adventure.

A concrete/shaped poem emphasizes the boy’s love of flowers. For this spread, I created a poem within a poem, all shaped like a petal. The “outer” layer alphabetically lists the “official” names of blue flowers (a nod to the scientific). The “inner” layer—PETALS POLLINATE PERIWINKLE AND ASTORS OF AZURE, SO MANY FLOWERS, SO MANY BLUES!— highlights a deep appreciation for the natural world, as well as the discoveries that come through contemplation.

(click to enlarge)

One of my favorite poems in I’m Feeling Blue, Too! narrates our protagonist carefully building a tower of blocks, an action that takes precision, patience, choices, and—of course—imagination and dreams. To me, the power of the imagination—to observe, respond, create, paint, move, write, perform stories—is the crux of I’m Feeling Blue, Too! It’s the light that takes us from those “can’t do nothin’ blues” and brings us into a larger world of creation, a world full of (if we dream it!) colorful possibility.

(click to enlarge)

What surprised you most about doing this project?

How easily one ekphrastic response led to another adventure in color, with Philip’s illustrations as map and guide. That’s not to say that there weren’t plenty of revisions—there were—but the overall narrative came out in a rush of discovery.

Finally, the question that all writers need to ask themselves before (and while) they are working on a book: Why did this book need to be written?

Philip’s artwork called out for the story behind the illustrations, a narrative that would pull the images even more tightly together. That was the original catalyst. However, since this book was so long in the making, these days I believe it begs another question: Why does it need to be read now?

And I think the answer stems from these strange times in which we live: the need to escape the sometimes suffocating experience of being stuck inside with those “can’t do nothin’ blues,” but also the joy of freedom that creativity can bring: to encourage, to learn, to teach, to grow, to make something beautiful, and strong, and powerful even, or especially, in the midst of troubled times.

Thanks so much for visiting, Marjorie – what do you have coming up next?

Because I write poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and children’s literature, I always have something on the burner! I’m currently co-editing a 20th anniversary edition of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, which will include all new poems and a teaching guide. In addition, my book of poems (for adults), Begin with a Question, is forthcoming in 2021 from Paraclete Press and addresses issues of faith, as well as a series of poems written during the pandemic.

My circulating poetry manuscript, Seeing Things, explores the ways that we distort or preserve memory, define or alter reality, and see or don’t see those around us on both a personal and national level. Woven throughout the collection is a series of odes.

And, of course, there’s always that trilogy of colors to continue with Philip!

Well, thank you so much for visiting again, Marjorie – and best wishes with Blue and all your upcoming projects!

A little bit about Marjorie Maddox: As Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie has published 11 collections of poetry including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist); Local News from Someplace Else;Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the story collection What She Was Saying (FomitePress); four children’s and YA books—including  Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Readiing Poems with Insider Exercises (Finalist Children’s Educational Category 2020 International Book Awards), A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry ; Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems; and I’m Feeling Blue, Too!Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor); and 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Her book Begin with a Question is forthcoming from Paraclete Press in 2021. She was the chair of the jury of judges for the 2020 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Book Award. For more information visit www.marjoriemaddox.com.

Jama Rattigan, who recently also spotlighted Marjorie’s book, is celebrating autumn by hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at Jama’s Alphabet Soup – with with apples, blue jays, and donuts!

===============================================================

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

===============================================================

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

================================================================

I’ve teamed up with several children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them! Here’s what you can look forward to seeing this month.

================================================================

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

===============================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

================================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

================================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

================================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)

To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) . Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Purgatory”

This post was originally published eight years ago, on Sept. 14, 2012. Since this little blog has gained a great deal more followers than it had when it was first created, I thought this was the perfect time of year to share it again. Hope you like it!

================================================================

I have to thank David L. Harrison for this posting.  Last week in his blog, he posted a new poem (you can read it here) which reminded me of one I had written a few years ago about the same subject.  It got me thinking about how and why we view things the way we do…

For instance, a group of one hundred people could all witness the same thing simultaneously – a tree, a sunset, a rock, a catastrophe – and each one would see it, feel it, and remember it differently (I’ve written a number of poems about this concept, actually).

A perfect example of this is to take a classroom of children outside to view something mundane like the lawn or the sky – nothing too exciting or stimulating – then bring them inside and ask them to write down one word that describes what they saw.  You’ll get very different answers because each child views life through their own thoughts, interests, and personalities.  We all do.

That’s what’s so great about poetry!

One person can look at a leaf caught in a spiderweb and think stand-up comedy (like David did) while another can look at the same thing and think death (hence, the title of MY poem).

So here it is; it’s a bit more narrative than I’m used to, but I wanted to relate the experience as a story as much as a poem – and even though I wrote it for adults, I wanted younger readers who may happen upon it to be able to understand the gist of what I was saying.

This was published last autumn in the Licking River Review, and now, a year later, with fall fast approaching, I suppose it’s the perfect time to ‘resurrect’ it:

Purgatory

On its gentle descent to the grave,
a lone maple leaf
found itself
suddenly suspended,
ensnared
in a spiderweb.

Caught halfway between
life and death
it hung,
contemplating
a tenuous existence.

Not wanting to complete
the journey
downward,
the leaf was satisfied
to accept this fate.

Better,
it thought,
than the alternative –
dirt
and rain
and thick-treaded soles.

But as the days grew shorter
weeks grew long
and the leaf
dry and brittle with age
watched
longingly
as friends and family passed.

Unexpectedly
a burst of wind
loosed the grasp of the web;
the leaf,
now free to fall,
eagerly
descended
in anticipation,
finally
happily
finding
rest.

– © 2012, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Janice Scully is celebrating the season, as well, with an original poem and photos from upstate New York – so be sure to head over to her blog, Salt City Verse, where she’s hosting the complete Poetry Friday roundup for today!

===============================================================

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

===============================================================

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

================================================================

I’ve teamed up with several children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them! Here’s what you can look forward to seeing this month.

================================================================

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

===============================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

================================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

================================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

================================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)

To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) . Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Woodland haiku

(click to enlarge)

Between home-schooling two young kids, trying to keep up with household chores, and trying to take care of my folks’ health and financial needs (they are both in a nursing home)…I’ve barely had any time to write or send out submissions. In fact, I question how much longer I can keep saying I’m “working from home” when I feel like I’m hardly working at all!

Be that as it may, I actually have some cool news to share, which I’ll likely do next week. (The irony is that this good news took surprisingly little time to materialize – which, considering my aforementioned schedule, is quite a

fortuitous development) Thanks for popping by today, and for more poetry offerings, be sure to visit Bridget Magee at Wee Words for Wee Ones, where she is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup!

===============================================================

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

===============================================================

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

===============================================================

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

===============================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

================================================================

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

================================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

================================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

================================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)

To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) . Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Art & Poetry collide for a homeschooling project

Never in my widest dreams did I ever think I’d be homeschooling my children…yet, here we are.

Going to live classes in school wasn’t really an option, and remote learning was becoming increasingly frustrating for both kids. So my wife and I decided our only choice was to go the homeschooling route.

It’s not easy, and we’re doing as much research and prep work as we can, but fortunately our state has no requirements or standards for homeschooling; as long as the kids learn what the need to learn to be able to move up to the next grade next year, what we do and how we do it between now and then is completely up to us.

So we’ve ordered Saxon Math and a couple of other programs to make sure we cover the vital subjects, and the rest we’re doing ourselves. Take today, for example, where I combined an ELA lesson with Art to create a two-plus hour project the kids enjoyed so much, they didn’t want to stop:

Ah, yes, one of the many things you can do when homeschooling: hold art class at the local coffee house! After we shared a smoothie and a whoopie pie, I had them practice unguided line drawings, whereby you draw an object without looking at the paper. It’s great practice for budding artists to become familiar with their subjects and develop spatial awareness.

You probably can’t tell, but there’s a coffeehouse in there, a war monument, and a giant blue gnu figurine that stands near the coffeehouse lawn. (Yes, a gnu, aka wildebeest) The fact that the kids were free to draw without fear of getting something wrong or somehow making a mistake was liberating and exciting for them. I had anticipated them each doing a couple of drawings, but after about 4 or 5 each I told them we really needed to get going!

Back home, after lunch and some playtime, I had each child write a poem about one of the pictures drawn by the other. I described how to write a list poem and told them to just have at it and write whatever came to mind. My son, a very creative yet literal-minded fellow who is more at ease reading nonfiction than anything else, followed my guidance and came up with this:

(It took me a few minutes before I realized he spelled “gnu” incorrectly in the first line!)

I probably should have been more explicit in my instructions, as he took them to heart and literally created a bulleted list – but it was a worthy effort, nonetheless. His 7-year-old little sister, on the other hand – the artiste of the family and one of the most creative, inventive souls I’ve ever met – went the rhyming route. I can’t say she didn’t knock it out of the park:

You don’t need to be a homeschooling parent to offer this as an activity for kids – it hardly seemed like a lesson at all to these two! The secret is, in both exercises, perfection was not required – nor even considered. This was all about letting one’s mind open and be free to feel the art and words being created. There’s a time and place for proper sentence structure, grammar, and spelling…and my kids loved the fact that this was not one of those times.

NIGHT WISHES” Winner!

In celebration of the new children’s poetry anthology, Night Wishes, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers is allowing me to give away one free copy! A number of folks commented on the blog post or shared links to help spread the word, and everyone who did so earned an entry in the drawing. After plugging all the entries into the ol’ Random Number Generator, the winner is…

MARIA MARSHALL!

I’m so happy for Maria, because she went out of her way to publish a 7-poet interview on her blog to help promote the book! It’s by sheer coincidence

her name was chosen at random, and I’m very happy for her. (If you’d care to pick up a copy, just click on the cover, below!) For more poetry, head over to The Opposite of Indifference, where Tabatha Yeatts is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup with a guest post by Carole Boston Weatherford about Carole’s new YA verse novel about Marilyn Monroe, “Beauty Mark.”

===============================================================

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

=========================================================

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

===============================================================

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

===============================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

================================================================

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

================================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

================================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

================================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)

To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) . Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: An autumn treasure from Carl Sandburg

Before we get to today’s post, I want to remind you that you still have time to enter the drawing for a free copy of “Night Wishes,” courtesy of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers! Just leave a comment on last Friday’s post, or share the post (or the previous post!) on Facebook or Twitter – and be sure to tag me each time, so I can give you your correct number of entries! I’ll pick one name at random at the end of the month, Sept. 30, and will announce the winner right here on Friday, Oct. 2. Good luck!

=========================================================

A few weeks ago, I was sorting through many of the items I had pulled from my parents’ home last year, before we sold it, and I came upon a small book that used to belong to my mother:

This school book from Grosset & Dunlap, published in 1935, contains my mother’s signature from when she was 8 years old and in grade 3 in Lowell, Massachusetts. (remember when they used to teach penmanship in elementary school??) This contains some real gems from children’s poetry’s past, including poems from folks like Dorothy Aldis, Rose Fyleman, Elizabeth Coatsworth…and this fellow:

(click to enlarge)

While I would never attempt to equate myself with someone like Carl Sandburg, I do feel a bit of a kinship with him, as neither of us cared much for “modern” poetry – that is, the obtuse, convoluted, stream-of-consciousness sort of free verse that seems to pervade the annals of academia. In fact, he once called the contemporary poetry of his day, “a series of ear wigglings.”

Although he tended to write in free verse, Sandburg eschewed lofty words and esoteric imagery for simple, straight-forward yet beautiful language – much in the way Billy Collins does today. In fact, Sandburg’s close friend, Harry Golden, once called the poet “the voice of America singing” – and I suppose he was right.

Sandburg, by the way, had a great many experiences that shaped his personality All Stories by Carl Sandburg - The Atlanticand writing: he served in the Spanish-American War, spent time working for the Socialist Democratic Party in Wisconsin, and eventually landed in Chicago as a writer for the Chicago Daily News. The above poem was originally published in Sandburg’s first poetry collection, Chicago Poems (Cornell University Library, 1916), and as soon as I saw it in this collection I knew I had to share it here, now that autumn has finally arrived!

If you’re looking for more poetry, Jone MacCulloch is hosting Poetry Friday with a celebration of math & poetry – and I new book I’ve just learned about, Hop To It – Poems to Get You Moving, from our friends Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong at Pomelo Books!

=========================================================

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

=========================================================

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

=========================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

=========================================================

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

=========================================================

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:
.
=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: The Roundup is here, with a “Night Wishes” Giveaway!

(All images © 2020 Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, all rights reserved, reprinted with permission)

This past Tuesday, we celebrated the book birthday of Night Wishes (Eerdmans), one of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins’ final children’s poetry anthologies. (There are still two more on the way, one in 2021 and one in 2022)

In this beautiful book illustrated by Jen Corace, 13 poets imagine how the inanimate objects in a child’s room room might say good night, in their own particular way. The bed, pillow, rocking horse, night light, and more all wish a little girl well as she drifts off to sleep. In addition to Yours Truly, contributors include:

Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Jude Mandell
Prince Redcloud
Alice Schertle
Joyce Sidman
Eileen Spinelli
Irene Latham
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Nikki Grimes
Deborah Ruddell
Darren Sardelli
Renee LaTulippe

I’m  honored that Eerdmans chose to spotlight my poem, “Pillow,” on the book’s JACKET FLAP (how cool is that??) and also included the poem, along with my friend Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s opening poem, “Bed,” on their Eerdlings blog post.

I’d also like to thank Eerdmans for interviewing me their official blog, Eerdlings! I chat about what inspires me, how I approach research, how my past radio experience has helped me write picture books, and more…it was a fun interview, and I’m grateful to the publisher.

Since I shared Rebecca’s and my poems in this this past Tuesday’s post, today I thought I’d share the poem Lee himself wrote:

(click to enlarge)

Somehow, it just seems fitting that the Teddy Bear – a symbol of love,  reassurance, and calm – would be the subject my friend and mentor chose to write about. The Dear One, as Lee was known to his friends, would indeed be proud of this book.

GIVEAWAY!!!

Would you like to win a free copy of “Night Wishes,” courtesy of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers? Just leave a comment below or share this post or Tuesday’s post on Facebook or Twitter (and be sure to tag me each time, so I can give you your correct number of entries!) – and I’ll pick one name at random at the end of the month, Sept. 30. The winner will be announced right here on Friday, Oct. 2.

Kirkus calls the book “A gentle, comforting ticket to beddy-bye — and good dreams.” And if you’d like to learn more about the book, the process behind the craft of poetry, and the relationship many of us had with Lee, I hope you’ll visit the recent blog post from Maria Marshall, who interviewed me and six other contributors about our work in general and this book, specifically.

Thanks for visiting! And since it is Poetry Friday, please leave your links below and I’ll round them up, old school-style, throughout the day. And if you’d like to see more of the book, be sure to check out my blog post from this past Tuesday.

Here’s what’s happening around the kidlitosphere for Poetry Friday:

=========================================================

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

=========================================================

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

=========================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

=========================================================

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

=========================================================

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:
.
=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Happy #BookBirthday to “Night Wishes!”

It’s here!!

Today is publication day for one of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins’ final children’s poetry anthologies, Night Wishes (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)!

In this collection of children’s poetry, 13 poets imagine how the inanimate objects in a child’s room room might say good night to him/her, in their own particular way. The list of contributors includes such an esteemed group of talented individuals, I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out how I ended up here:

I’m also quite honored that Eerdmans chose to spotlight my poem, “Pillow,” on the book’s jacket flap – and also included the poem along with the book’s opening poem, “Bed,” by my friend Rebecca Kai Dotlich, on their Eerdlings blog post! (Images © 2020 Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, all rights reserved, reprinted with permission)

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

I mentioned in a previous post that Rebecca and I never spoke to one another about our poems as we were writing them…yet I love how remarkably seamlessly they flow from one to the other, in tone as well as in addressing the reader as “child,” a theme that carries into other poems, as well) And as you can see, Jen Corace’s illustrations are so soft and comforting but full of life and energy, as well – perfect for the book’s blend of bedtime imagery and fanciful adventure.

By the way, many, many thanks to my friend, Maria Marshall, who interviewed me and six other contributors for an extensive blog post about the creation process for our poems, our reflections on our personal relationships with Lee Bennett Hopkins, and thoughts on the craft of poetry.

Kirkus loves the book, too, calling it “A gentle, comforting ticket to beddy-bye — and good dreams.” What a review!

I hope you’ll pick up a copy, available everywhere. If you’d like me to sign your copy, just order it through our local bookstore and let them know who you’d like it signed to – the owner will let me know, I’ll stop by and sign it, and it’ll be in the mail, usually within 24 hours!

I also hope you’ll plan to stop by here again on Friday, when I share Lee Bennett Hopkins’ tender poem, “Teddy Bear” when I host Poetry Friday!

=========================================================

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

=========================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

=========================================================

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

=========================================================

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:
.
=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Baking Day”

Boy, this remote-schooling business just sucks every brain cell outta you.

All week long, I’ve been trying to find time to put together today’s post – but keep getting sidetracked with Chromebook issues, missing links, and a variety of other problems only a stay-at-home parent with two remote-schooled kids would have the privilege of dealing with. So I no sooner get my poem completed and start organizing my post, when I realize…it’s September 11.

I feel I should recognize the importance of the day with something other than a tanka about baking cookies with my mom.

But honestly, I think given the current political climate, all of us in the U.S. recognize the importance of how we want our government to operate and our officials to behave – and while I’d never want to experience 9/11 again (I was on the radio at the time, and that entire week was an emotional and physical blur, between all the news feeds, interviews, and updates we were providing on-air), I do wish we could return to our nation’s overall collective civility in the days immediately following.

Pipe dreams, alas.

So for today, I am offering a tanka about my childhood. Ultimately, I suppose both 9/11 and baking with mom highlight the important things in our lives:  love, family, security. I never learned a great deal about cooking from my mother – who is nearly 90 and in hospice care – but she certainly instilled in me a love for it. And for that, I’m grateful.

(click to enlarge)

Since I celebrated my father’s birthday a few weeks ago with a poem for him, I felt I should probably do the same for mom. I hope she likes it when I show her next week.

In other news, I was surprised – and grateful – that Eerdmans Books for Young Readers is using a video I recorded to promote the upcoming Lee Bennett Hopkins anthology, Night Wishes, across their social media!

We’ll have a proper book birthday celebration right here next week, when I host Poetry Friday! For now, if you’re looking for more poetry, Kiesha Shepard is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, Whispers from the Ridge with a spotlight on poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. If you don’t think you’ve ever heard of him, you are at least likely familiar with the famous line from his poem, “Sympathy: “I know why the caged bird sings.” (Now you’re thinking, “Wait, isn’t that a Maya Angelou poem?” And you would be wrong.)

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

=========================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

=========================================================

Coming Sept. 15, 2020!

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:.

=========================================================

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

=========================================================

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them! Here’s what you can look forward to seeing this month:
.

==================================================================================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Lessons” (or, Why the Heck is Matt Sharing a Rough Draft??)

Before we get to today’s poem, a couple of folks had asked me if I could make last week’s poem more “shareable” – so I did!

Feel free to copy & share this graphic, if you’d like!

I’ve been really proud of the feedback I’ve received on that poem, so thank you to everyone who has told me they’ve enjoyed it and shared it already. It may seem like a simple poem, but it wasn’t simple to write! Now then, for today’s poem…

I’m sharing something that WAS simple to write – because it’s a first draft. I rarely share first (or rough) drafts because they aren’t all spit-and-polished like the poems you normally see posted everywhere, including here, but I felt it’s important to see the beginnings of a poem; the early iterations of a poetic thought.

The idea came to me fairly quickly, but the poem still took me nearly 30 minutes to finish…and I’m not exactly happy with it. The emotion feels forced, the sentiment is thin, and I’m not sure if I like the awkward pause in the 4th line (“how/to know/the unknown”). Granted, I deliberately created that awkward pause for effect, but I’m not sure it works. Let’s see what you think…

Lessons

How to be social
yet distant;
how to be human,
alone;
how to be loved as an
island;
how
to know
the unknown.

– © 2020 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

I don’t mean to make it seem like I don’t like the poem – I’m happy with it as a rough draft – but it’s definitely not something I’d ever submit anywhere or expect to be published somewhere. Will I revise and polish it? Perhaps. Will I tuck it away in a drawer, never to see the light of day? Probably more likely.

But the act of writing is in itself the most important aspect of the poem. I’ve said it before: it’s important to #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading – and that’s what I did. I had an idea in my head, and I wrote it down.

Sometimes, that’s good enough.

Carol Varsalona is hosting Poetry Friday today by celebrating the end of the season with the first part of her Embraceable Summer Gallery – a collection of poetry and visuals too large for one post! Be sure to head over and check out all the links, and have a wonderful weekend!

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

=========================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

=========================================================

Coming Sept. 15, 2020!

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:.

=========================================================

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

=========================================================

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them! Here’s what you can look forward to seeing this month:
.

==================================================================================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!