Poetry Friday: Kicking off #NationalPoetryMonth with Laura Shovan’s “Monsters”

I have to admit, National Poetry Month really snuck up on me this year.

I’ve been extremely busy since the year began, with writing, submitting, and doing more school visits than ever! It’s a good thing to be this busy, true – but then suddenly I’m into the fourth month of the year and I realize the first quarter of 2023 is behind us and I’ve still got so much to wrap up before summer!

I need to finish final prep work for my free verse poetry presentation (a 2-hour intensive, no less!) at this year’s New England SCBWI Spring Conference at the end of the month along with a panel group I’ll be taking part in along with friends and fellow authors Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, Padma Venkatraman, and Valerie Boling; I’m helping my wife, a Nurse Practitioner at a local Hospital, with her pet-sitting business she does on the side; and I’m trying to get our tax paperwork together and submitted to our CPA before April 15.


So imagine my surprise when I looked at the calendar a couple of weeks ago and saw April staring at me!

Fortunately, I had made plans. Later this month I’ll be interviewing both Robert Schechter about his debut poetry collection, the multiple-starred reviewed The Red Ear Blows its Nose (Word Galaxy, 2023) as well as fellow PB2023 member (and editor) Ryan G. Van Cleave about his new poetry books from Bushel & Peck.

Laura Shovan

But first up, it’s my friend Laura Shovan, whose latest book is a collection of poems is a bit of a departure for her.

While Laura has published several middle grade novels (learn more about her by reading my interview with her HERE) and has had numerous poems published in various anthologies over the years, Welcome to Monsterville (Apprentice House Press, 2023) is her first children’s poetry collection.

all graphics © 2023 Apprentice House Press, all rights reserved

If ever there was an example of a book coming together via serendipity, this is it.

Laura’s friend, poet and Monsterville illustrator Michael Rotherberg, sent her a few pictures of monsters he had drawn while trying to pass the time with some art therapy during the Covid pandemic shutdown. She responded to him by writing poems for each monster – and sharing their stories. As this process continued, they realized that a poetry collection written as a way to cope with social and emotional anxiety was exactly what young children could use to help with their own anxieties – and Welcome to Monsterville was born.

The nice thing about this is, aside from the wonderfully playful and thoughtful poems, the monsters are never shown as scary or things to be feared – they are as friendly, quirky, and unique as every child who reads the book! Take this, for example:

The variety of poem styles (some rhyme, some are free verse) as well as the variety of monsters makes each page new and surprising for a young reader. And hopefully, that young reader will glean something positive from Laura’s words!

Learn more about laura and catch up on her blog posts about Monsterville at her website. For more poetry, head on over to the Poetry Friday roundup at Reflections on the Teche with Margaret Simon, where she is hosting the 2023 Progressive Poem.


I’m still booking author visits for the 2023 Spring Semester (and Fall 2023, too)!

I love chatting with elementary and middle school classes about writing: why poetry is fun to read and write, the importance of revision, and how one’s imagination and creativity can lead to a fantastic career! My presentations are tailored to fit the needs of the classes and students’ ages. One day I might be sharing details of how a picture book like Flashlight Night (Astra Young Readers, 2017) was created; the next, I’ll be discussing dinosaur breath or origami sea turtles!

Student presentations include:

  • The Making of a Picture Book
  • How a Child Saved a Book
  • “Once Upon Another Time”
  • The Most Imporant Thing about Writing Poetry
  • “I Am Today”
  • “A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human”
  • “Everybody Counts: Counting to 10 in Twelve Languages”

Adult presentations include:

  • The Making of a Picture Book
  • The Most Important Thing about Writing Poetry
  • Free Yourself with Free Verse
  • Tight Language, Loose Narratives: Crafting a Non-Traditional Picture Book

Learn more at MattForrest.com!

If you or someone you know might be interested in having me visit your school, library, or other organization, please email me
at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com!


(The Little Fig, LLC, 2023)

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of this or or ANY of my books
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Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click here to view all my books and to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (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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21 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Kicking off #NationalPoetryMonth with Laura Shovan’s “Monsters”

  1. margaretsmn

    And I thought I was busy! Whew! I’m glad you made time to review Laura’s book. I love the story behind how it came to be and the message is something our students need to hear. I had the privilege of presenting with her at NCTE in the fall.


  2. lindabaie

    I have it pre-ordered, know it will be a delight! And I love the backstory, too! Whew, you do have a lot. I did do the taxes, takes time I know. Your presentation will be great for everyone, I’m sure, Matt! Thanks for all!


  3. Leigh Anne Eck

    thank you for sharing Laura’s much-needed book. I loved learning how the book came about! So many kids are fascinated with funny monsters, yet it shares some important lessons and thoughts.


  4. Good luck getting it all done, Matt! (I’ve often thought it should be April Madness instead of March, for that is usually a poet’s most jampacked month!) And so many congratulations to Laura on her debut poetry collection which clearly offers much to love.


  5. Matt, this seems to be a busy time of year for everyone but we all seem to move through it to the other side. I enjoyed your review of Laura’s book, especially this line, “monsters are never shown as scary or things to be feared – they are as friendly, quirky, and unique as every child who reads the book!”
    What a charming gift Laura presents to the KidLit world. Have a wonderful Easter. (If you have an image poem that fits with the themes of my newest gallery, Springsations, Vol 2, I would love to showcase it.)


  6. heidimordhorst

    Hooray for Laura! I’m looking forward to attending her book launch later in April. In this one I love “tangled rivers/flowing fast.” The variety is pretty astounding. Thanks for leading me to Bushel & Peck!


  7. Pingback: Poetry Friday: A “Springsations Gallery” preview with Carol Varsalona – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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