Poetry Friday: Celebrating a new board book – and a mother’s life

As you may have heard, my newest book – my first-ever board book and first book written in prose – just arrived in the world this past Tuesday, and I’m still celebrating!

Elliot the Heart-Shaped Frog (Rainstorm Publishing/Kidsbooks Publishing) is a Goldilocks-type tale about a little frog who, no longer needing to live underwater, decides to set out in search of a new home and finds all sorts of surprising shapes and colors.

You can imagine, then my surprise yesterday, when I was helping a friend shovel her driveway and we both realized her son, Elliot, was wearing this:

What are the odds?? My book now has an official mascot, Elliot, the Frog-Hatted Cutiepie!

By the way, if you’re interested in picking up a copy, I encourage you to order through our local independent bookstore, MainStreet BookEnds. Not only will you be helping out a small, local business, but you can request that the book (or nearly ANY of my books) be personally-signed!

Now, then, the poetry…

It’s been nearly two years ago since I shared a poem my mom had written when she was a young woman. I had been cleaning out my folks’ house in preparation for it being sold, and came across several folders containing poems, stories, and articles written in a bygone age.

With her passing on Dec. 31, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own creative skills and how my parents’ influence reflects in my own work. While neither of my folks had the training or experience in writing that I have, they were very expressive and introspective people – and I can see that without their encouragement and support (not to mention their genes!) – I would not be where I am today.

So I thought I’d share another one of Mom’s poems today. I believe it was probably written in the mid-late ’50s, as she uses the initials of her maiden name, Virginia Gertrude Agnes Johnson, which she likely would not have done once she married Dad in 1959:

Much of Mom’s poetry – and there is quite a bit – deals with longing, despondency, anxiety, and melancholy. I wish I could have learned from her what inspired her to write, and to whom she often wrote. I know some of these were directed to Dad, who was in the Army and stationed overseas in Germany at the time – but some were written well before they met. A mystery never to be solved, I fear.

But then, poems are meant to make us think and keep us guessing, aren’t they?

For the complete Poetry Friday roundup, be sure to head over to Bookseed Studio, where Jan Godown Annino has all of today’s poetry links and fun!


Coming March 2, 2021!

Contrasting the past with the present, this picture book takes you through a lyrical exploration of the world as it was before humans made their mark.


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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!


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12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Celebrating a new board book – and a mother’s life

  1. Your Elliot book looks so fantastic! Congratulations!

    I’m sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. Mine died just over a year ago. How healing it is to find those writings! Very beautiful. Hugs.


    On Thu, Jan 28, 2021 at 10:04 PM Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme wrote:

    > Matt Forrest Esenwine posted: ” As you may have heard, my newest book – my > first-ever board book and first book written in prose – just arrived in the > world this past Tuesday, and I’m still celebrating! Elliot the Heart-Shaped > Frog (Rainstorm Publishing/Kidsbooks Publishing) is a Go” >


  2. lindabaie

    I love your little Elliot, saw the picture on FB & wondered who he was. What serendipity, Matt, to find a live Elliot to celebrate your board book! Congratulations! Your mother certainly wrote from the heart in this poem, and I especially like that she wrote about touching the heart, but nothing touches the soul, her truth? I’m glad you shared, know that you must miss her.


  3. haitiruth

    Matt, I’m sure your mom was really proud of your writing success. What an adorable mascot you found for your latest book! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com


  4. Kay Mcgriff

    That is a cutie-pie for your book mascot. Congratulations again on your book’ entrance to the world. Thank you for sharing your mother’s poem. It does leave a lot to ponder.


  5. Oh my goodness, your mascot is sooo adorable!
    Your mom’s poem ponders philosophy questions about the relationship between the heart, mind, and soul… Fascinating stuff! My deepest sympathies to you on your loss, Matt.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mitchell Linda

    Oh, my goodness, Matt! First congratulations. I love cheering on your new books as they come out into our world. Elliott looks as delightful as his mascot. And, wow to your mother’s poetry. I too have hit the stage of wondering about connections that I cannot ask my predecessors about. But, in a way, that leads to more creative writing. You are a fortunate son and we are fortunate readers that you share her with us. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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