Poetry Friday: Spine poetry as a fun activity kids won’t realize is educational!

As I mentioned in this past Tuesday’s post, several children’s authors and illustrators are offering readalouds, drawing lessons, activity sheets, and other educational resources for kids, parents, and teachers who now find themselves “remote learning.”

For my part, I’m producing a series of short videos on poetry: how to write it, how to appreciate it while reading, and some tips on poetry-related activities. Since so many of my peers are doing video chats with students, I thought I would focus my “Wit & Wordplay” videos, as I call them, on parents and educators.

For some time now I’ve been wanting to help my educator and parent friends with some educational videos…but I’ll admit these have been hastily put together, as I am trying to assist my kids with this “new normal” of home-schooling while attempting to write and do my voiceover work. Moreover, I’m working with a video editing program I’ve never used before, as I had to reinstall Windows about a month ago and lost the program I had been using (MS Movie Maker), which is apparently no longer available!

Lake, the newest member of the family!

Oh, and did I mention we have a 10-week-old Great Dane puppy?

So, yeah…I’ve been a bit busy.

The fact I was able to create six videos in two days is still surprising to me, but I have plenty more I plan on producing over the weekend. For today, I wanted to share a couple of simple spine poetry examples I use in my most recent video. Spine poetry is a form of “found poetry,” whereby you search through books’ spines to find titles you think might go together to create a phrase, scene or thought:

There’s a cow in the road!
Deadly animals
wild in the streets…
choose your path.

Again, it doesn’t need to be long – a few titles are all you need! Even two books would suffice:

You get the idea! Silly, thoughtful, scary…doesn’t matter! The important thing is that kids are learning how to put disparate thoughts together (a book about deadly animals together with Star Wars®? Whoulda thunk??)

You can see more spine poetry examples on my YouTube channel. And if you think any of this information might be useful for someone you know or a school near you, I hope you’ll share.

In addition to these videos, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website. The list of all the authors & illustrators who are participating in this national effort is a long one, so here are a few lists you can use to find out who’s doing what:

Let’s Keep Reading!

#AuthorsHelpingKids

#KidLitQuarantine

Laura Shovan’s #WriteAnAuthor

And since today is Poetry Friday, you might want to find more poetry posts…so just head on over to MoreArt4All, where Michelle Kogan is hosting Poetry Friday and welcoming Spring with a variety of poems written by her and several others in the PF community!

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Pre-orders are available now!

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year! And there are a LOT of them, too – including SEVEN in March!

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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!

Madness!Poetry returns – and Round One voting is underway!

It’s March, and that means Round One voting in the nation’s largest bracketed children’s poetry competition – Madness! Poetry – is now underway!

Please vote for your favorites! Voting runs until this Friday, March 13, at 5:15pm EDST, which means you’ve only got a couple of days.

Each participant (or ‘authlete,’ as we are called) is paired with another and given a specific word; we then have 36 hours to write a children’s poem using that exact word. Once the poems have all been submitted, the public, schools, and fellow authletes vote…and whoever wins their round moves on to the next round, much in No photo description available.the way that the NCAA’s March Madness works. Eventually, one winner will be crowned champion and receive the highly-coveted and oft-damaged “The Thinkier” trophy!

In Round One, my competitor, Laurie Kaiser, and I have been given the word “submerged.” Other authletes struggled with words like “exuberant,” “pigeonholed,”  “gamboling,” and “fecund.” So you can see, “submerged” isn’t the toughest word we could have been given!

So please click the logo above and vote for your favorites – not just my matchup, but all of them – and thanks so much for supporting children’s poetry!

Voting ends at 5:15pm EDST on March 13 (yes, Friday the 13th!)

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Have you pre-ordered yet??

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year! And there are a LOT of them, too – including SEVEN in March, plus the new poetry anthology Construction People (Wordsong, March 17, 2020), of which I’m a contributor:

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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: My very first poetry collection…from 40 years ago

Today’s the day.

After months and months and months of cleaning out my parents’ house – the house I grew up in – it is finally being sold.

By the time you read this, we may have already closed the sale, in fact. It’s bittersweet, as there are a lot of memories inside and out…but considering how long it has taken me and how much work it’s been, I’m glad to be able to put this chapter behind me.

Boxes of letters mom and dad exchanged while he was stationed in Germany in the early ’50’s.

Mom and dad are now both together in the local nursing home, and if you have frequented this blog at all during the past 16+ months, you know that cleaning out a house filled with 60+ years of married life has been a long, arduous process dotted with sporadic bursts of nostalgia, amazement, and melancholy. (See a few random posts HERE, HERE, and HERE) Being an only child has meant no sibling-squabbling about who gets what…the problem is, I’m the one who gets it all, and I have no idea where to put it!

Now, granted, I have found lots of things I had completely forgotten about.
Like my high school artwork…

…news clippings…

 

…and assorted mementos from my senior year…

So having found these lost relics, I’m glad I had the opportunity to peruse the museum warehouse home before it was sold. I’m also fortunate to have been able to revisit my “hideout,” a small area of woods just outside the boundaries of our lawn, where more than one adventure transpired:

(If you wonder where I got the idea for “Flashlight Night”…this is likely the spot)

But one of the most surprising things I discovered hidden away among the childhood drawings…

…the models…

…and the toys…

Boxes and boxes of original, late ’80’s-era McDonald’s Happy Meal toys!

…was a little book (if I may call it that) I didn’t even realize existed! I estimate I was probably around 10 years old when I produced this little poetry collection for my mother. Honestly, I don’t even remember writing poetry at this age, so this really took me by surprise:

That’s right…only 4 pages, and one of them is a full-page display ad promoting my next book. If I knew anything at that age, it was how to market. (By the way, speaking of marketing…)

Up until now, I thought my first “book” was a high school creative writing class project I also discovered while cleaning, but apparently I had been publishing years earlier and had completely forgotten. So as bittersweet as it is to say goodbye to my childhood home, I do have some memories, poetry and artwork – and a 50-year-old bottle of Mercurochrome – to hold onto.

Time for me to put all this memorabilia away for now. 2020 is looking like a banner year for Yours Truly, with as many as FOUR books coming out along with a poetry anthology, so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. I’ve also got several other manuscript submissions to get to before I hunker down and begin this year’s cookie-baking marathon.

So enjoy your weekend, and please encourage your kids to pursue their interests and dreams…one never knows where those dreams will lead! If you’re looking for more poetry, my friend Liz Steinglass, with whom I presented at NCTE last month, is hosting Poetry Friday today with her “favorite word!”

Very proud to be a first-round judge in the CYBILS Poetry category, once again!

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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: Picture book publishing news AND a Donald Hall tribute

Before we get to today’s poetry offering, I have some big, BIG news to share:

I have another picture book coming out!

(Yes, they spelled my name wrong, but everybody does that)

Not only am I excited that I’ve signed a contract with a publishing company that’s as excited about the book as I am, I’m thrilled that my co-author is non other than Father Goose® himself, Charles Ghigna!

Way back in 2013, Charles shared with me a few stanzas he had written. Were they a poem, or a picture book, or something else? He wasn’t sure what they might be…but he asked for my thoughts and I came up with a concept for a narrative arc and a few stanzas of my own to follow his.

He liked my plan, so I went ahead and completed the first rough draft, then over the course of the next few months we tweaked and edited the manuscript until it was where we wanted it. We had no idea at the time that we would have to send it out to about 25 or so editors before Naomi Krueger at Beaming Books saw my pitch for it on the #PBPitch Twitter event last October.

So be prepared:  you’ll be seeing lots more posts about the development of this book in the months to come. You’ll also be inundated with news about my other upcoming books, as this now brings my total to SEVEN NEW BOOKS due out between 2020-2022!

Consider yourself warned…

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In other news…a big event last night at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord NH!

 

I was honored to be among the 11 poets who read from the new book, Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall (Encircle Pub., 2019), which just came out this past June 23, on the one-year anniversary of Hall’s passing. Editor Cynthia Brackett-Vincent also attended and read her favorite Hall poem, which is also one of mine:

Names of Horses

All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer,
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.

In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields,
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield…

(read the rest of the poem HERE)
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It’s truly an honor to be part of such a book, with such esteemed folks as Jane Yolen, LR Berger, and many others. I hope you’ll pick up a copy! And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links, please head on over to Poetry for Children, where Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong are hosting the festivities!

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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 for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’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: “Shadows”

It’s summer, the kids are home from school, and I’m trying to fit vacation, work, and the daunting task of cleaning out my parent’s house all into one month – and not really succeeding! I’m enjoying the season and my time with the family, certainly; just not finding enough time to squeeze everything in. So today I thought I’d dust off another past Poetry Friday post that I really liked. I wrote and posted it for my son back in Sept. 2013 when he was just 3 years old, and even though it’s not the most spectacularly-penned poem, it’s special to me because of the subject. Hope you like it! For all of today’s Poetry Friday links, head over to My Juicy Little Universe, where Heidi is hosting with a “definito!”

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Shadows - poem & pic
(click to enlarge)

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AVAILABLE NOW!

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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 for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’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: Happy #BookBirthday to a new anthology!

It arrives in just a few days! I Am Someone Else (Charlesbridge) is the newest children’s poetry anthology from Lee Bennett Hopkins, and I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of another one of his books. The book is all about pretending – from firefighters and video game creators to knights and mermaids – and is a perfect book to share with kids who are wondering what to do with themselves over summer vacation!

So to celebrate the book, which hits stores next Tue., July 2, I thought I’d ask Lee and illustrator Chris Hsu to join me for a brief chat about the book – and pretending! So let’s have some fun with this…

First, who did young Lee Hopkins and Chris Hsu pretend to be when they were little boys?

Lee Bennett Hopkins

LEE:  I suppose I always pretended to be someone who would be something rather than a young boy living in the projects in Newark, New Jersey, trapped within the confines of a poor dysfunctional family. The pretending always seemed to be toward the arts. I lost myself in movies, mainly musicals, found theatre at age of thirteen and soaked in as much as I could. I began reading plays, one after another.
CHRIS:  Probably Mario! The original Nintendo had just come out and it was natural to want to jump around, off of, and over things like he did in the game.

How did ‘pretending’ and playtime help influence/develop the person you are today?

LEE:  Obviously, and I had not thought about this before, music, theatre are all rich in language and poetry. It had to have had an influence on my life. I think as grown-ups, we miss out on the opportunity to step ‘outside of ourselves,’ so to speak, and pretend to be someone else – other than at Halloween.
CHRIS:  I believe it develops and stretches the imagination, which in turn translates into creativity and abstract thinking as an adult.

If you could be someone else, who would you be?

2017 Florida Artists Hall of Fame, L-R: Don Felder, Billy Dean, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Jim Stafford .

LEE:  I like myself. I always have. This is not to be pretentious, but I have led a wondrous life. I have always been independent, knowing what I want and how to get it. Were I to be someone else? Perhaps a playwright such as Tennessee Williams, a poet like Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman or Langston Hughes — men who wrote about the gut of life. Among the greatest thrills was being inducted into the 2017 Florida Artists Hall of Fame – on the roster with the 1989 recipient, Tennessee Williams! Of course, I’d love to be Barbra Streisand, one of the greatest talents in the world.
CHRIS:  I’d want to be an explorer in the age of exploration, maybe landing on an island no one had ever set foot on, with the role of documenting the wildlife and land to bring back home. What an adventure that would be!

Indeed, Lee, your life has been one amazing accomplishment after another! Let’s talk about the book now…was there any particular character you wish could have been included, but wasn’t? Why?

LEE:  The characters I chose for I Am Someone Else were well thought out. In the section on story book characters, for example, rather than a giant, I thought of a giant’s wife who is ‘in a total quandary /each time (she tries) to do the laundry!” People who help others, like the firefighter who risks his/her life every day. The makers – those creative beings who make our lives richer, a dancing child whose “Music makes my body move!” or the poet “to show / what a poem / what a poet / can do. / To show you — YOU!”
CHRIS: At the beginning, the kids file into a classroom, so the assumption is there’s a teacher present.  Ultimately, though, I chose not to illustrate any adult and keep the focus on the kids, much like how in the old Muppet Babies cartoon it was always told through the eyes of the Muppets, and the one adult present (Nanny) was there but remained anonymous if ever seen at all.  I felt this made the kids seem more independent.

Self-Aggrandizement Warning: my spread!

Were you surprised by anything during the process of making the book – perspectives of the writers, perhaps, or an unforeseen problem, or revelation?

LEE:  A wondrous revelation came when I was beginning the idea. I was discussing it with my dear friend, Lois Lowry, at a luncheon at her summer condo in Naples, and I batted around some ideas. Lois jumped at the chance to write “Big Problems,” a poem about a giant’s wife. Being one of the most distinguished writers of our times, even winning two Newbery Awards, did not mean she might come through writing a poem for young children. What the heck. Let her try. She did. She DID! Now she is on a roll with future poems to appear in my collections.

I also try very hard to bring new voices to a collection. Janet Clare Fagal has been ‘after me’ for eons. It was time for the tryout. Her “A Mermaid’s Tale” is charming. She worked draft after draft after draft until the poem was complete. It was Karen Boss, the editor, who decided the mermaid would be a young African American boy. This happened before Julian is a Mermaid (Candlewick, 2018), a wonderful book by Jessica Love,  appeared. And why not? If a young boy wants to pretend to be a mermaid, why shouldn’t a man like me not want to pretend to be Barbra Streisand?

CHRIS:  Even though the book is a string of separate poems with different tones and no story arc, Karen (Boss, editor), Martha (Sikkema, art director), and I thought to give it some sort of visual continuity so it didn’t just feel like a chain of non-related poems. We did that by casting a group of six kids, and then putting them in a common location – the classroom – where they could then take turns “acting” out the poems.  And by using six kids to act out fifteen poems, you get to see each kid starring in two or three scenarios each; and I felt that showing each kid exploring multiple roles was important to the concept of using one’s imagination.

Chris Hsu

The classroom setting also provided a continuous time frame that this all takes place, which is within the a single school day.  The unexpected roadblock of creating a mini story, however, was that once the last poem ended the whole book just ended very abruptly with no sense of a “the end.”  So to solve that, we added a final page that mirrored the first page of the book that gave a feeling of coming full circle.

Wow, it never occurred to me that the same kids were trying out multiple roles – what a great idea! So what do you two hope readers (grown-ups as well as kids) will take away from this book?

LEE: We are living in unexpectedly, confusing, almost insane times. We have to – need to – pretend. We can do this via poetry. We can wish to be someone else – for awhile – and make believe, masquerade. We need to get away from reality now and then, yet we must all realize, in the long run, there is nothing better than being yourself. Maybe, perhaps, pretend can lead to reality. Anything is possible with perseverance, stamina, dreams.
CHRIS:  My goal is to make books that both kids and adults can take something from. For kids who experience the book, I hope they leave with the idea that as long as they can imagine it they can act it out – even using props they likely have sitting around already and even if it’s a role not stereotypically suited for them. And it’s not limited to just one role; they can act out as many roles or characters and emotions they can think of.

For adults or parents who read the book, I hope they take away the reminder that kids’ minds are constantly in play, and that play develops into growth. As adults, we can always do our part to encourage that exploration of their imagination – whether it be engaging with them while they’re in “character,” making suggestions, or even helping them collect costumes and props.

I’m so thrilled to be a part of this book with you…I’m gad we were able to chat! By the way, what projects do you have coming up soon?

LEE:  I Remember: Poems of Pride and Prejudice (Lee & Low), will be released September 10th, a book that has been in production for four years. Fifteen of America’s top poets of varied ethnicity reveal heartfelt memories of childhood. Each poet defines what poetry means to them; each artist comments on their craft. An added bonus is an album of photographs of poets and illustrators as child and adult. Sixteen full-color paintings were created to match ethnicity of the poets, including cover art by Sean Qualls.

A favorite book of mine, Manger (Eerdmans), will be released in August in a high-quality paperbound edition, illustrated by Helen Cann. Starred in Kirkus as a book “worth savoring during the Christmas season.”
CHRIS:  The new season of ‘Archer’ just premiered a few weeks ago!  I’m a background artist on the show so check it out, it’s a funny season this year inspired by ’70s and ’80s space sci-fi movies.  Other than that, I’m always on the lookout for my next book gig, and I hope it’s a good one!

Chris, you’re an artist for ‘Archer’?? Very cool! I’ll definitely have to pay more attention to the scenery! Thank you both again for your time, and congratulations on this wonderful book we’re part of.

LEE:  Thank you, Matt, for your most interesting questions!
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TWO NEW BOOKS!

Coming soon, July 2, 2019: …………………Just released June 23, 2019:

For all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun, please visit my friend Buffy Silverman’s blog, where you can find the complete roundup!

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

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 for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’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: “My Book Report”

This was originally posted six years ago, on May 24, 2013 (where does the time go??)…but since the school year is winding down and graduations are ubiquitous these days, I thought a little school-themed poetry might be nice. Plus…I’ve been a little busy lately!

Hope you like it…

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I thought I’d go waaaaay back in time for today’s post – back to the fall of 2000!

This is one of the first few children’s poems I ever wrote (I started writing for children in ’99, I believe), but when I read it today, it doesn’t feel that old, if that makes sense.  Sometimes when you’re developing a skill – whether it’s writing, singing, painting, whatever – you can tell the older, unskilled work from the newer, ID-10052692 (books)more polished stuff.  Personally, I can tell it’s not new…but I’m not embarrassed by it, either (and yes, there are plenty of poems that will never see the light of day for that very reason).

“Book Report”

My teacher said I have to write
a book report for class –
at least one hundred-fifty words,
or else I will not pass.

So here I sit with pen in hand
and nothing in my mind;
if I don’t get this handed in
I’ll be in quite a bind.

There must be some creative way
I can begin the text:
I know my name, I know the date,
I don’t know what comes next.

Come on, now, brain, you’ve got to think
and help me get this done!
It’s due tomorrow morning, and
I’ve not even begun!

But wait – that’s it – I’ve got it now!
I know just what I need!
The first thing that I’ll have to do…
is find a book to read.

– © 2000, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllLooking for more poetry? You’re in luck! Dani is hosting today’s Poetry Friday at Doing the Work That Matters. Head on over and check out all the links!

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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 for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’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)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Goodbye, Paul Janeczko

PBJ at PDS (1).jpgThis past Wednesday, the world of children’s literature lost a wonderful poet, teacher, cheerleader, ambassador…friend.

Paul B. Janeczko, author and anthologist of nearly 40 books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, passed away due to a terrible illness, and those of us who knew him are shocked and saddened. He wrote, he visited students in school, he traveled cross-country to educate educators on writing and teaching poetry – and shared his love of the poetic word with everyone with whom he came in contact.

A genuinely nice fellow, he also went out of his way to encourage newcomers like me to the field of children’s poetry. About 6 or 7 years ago, when I was first starting to learn my way around the business, Paul noticed a Facebook post I’d written about a poetry collection getting rejected. Out of the blue, he messaged me and asked if I’d share a few of my poems with him because he’d love to take a look at them.

Of course, I was thrilled that he wanted to see what I was writing, so I sent him 3 or 4 poems; a few days later he wrote back and told me how pleasantly surprised he was at what I had sent him! He said that often newcomers to children’s poetry feel they need to try to be the next Silverstein or Seuss, but that my writing was quite strong, unique, and I had a good sense about what I was doing. That email made my month!

And even though I regret never having the pleasure of being in a Paul Janeczko anthology, I’ll treasure our friendship, his “happy birthday” emails, and our mutual affinity for the Boston Red Sox. (Oh, and his insistence that I keep my beard. He was quite disappointed last April, when I shaved it off!)

  

There have been many folks sharing poems they’ve written for Paul, but I just wanted to share one of my favorite PBJ poems here. I love it not only because I have several daughters and the poem is very touching simply because of its subject matter, but because Paul had such a delicate, loving, way of describing this little girl:

How to Hug Your Three-Year-Old Daughter
(for Emma)

Be prepared
to be quick.

The hug may come
when you expect it least:
you’re carrying a cup of hot coffee
…..answering her call sleepy eyed
……….lifting bread from the oven.

The hug may come
around your knees…

(you can read the poem in its entirety here)

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Disappointing that Paul never had a chance to hold his final ‘baby’ in his arms before he passed…but I’m sure there will be plenty of children (and us grown-ups!) who will treasure it for years.

Thank you, Paul, for all you’ve given us. As poet/performer/novelist Allan Wolf said in his tribute poem for Paul, “Now stands a legacy / where a poet used to be.”

You can read Publisher’s Weekly’s obituary detailing his life here.

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, be sure to visit Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge. Oh, and if you did not get a chance to check out my interview this past Tue. with Fred Koehler and Rebecca Kai Dotlich about their new collaboration (and enter the free giveaway!) I hope you’ll do so HERE !

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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 for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’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: “Imaginary Friend” video for #WorldReadAloudDay

It’s #WorldReadAloudDay, and I’m going to be busy all day long reading to students in schools all over the U.S. (including Alaska!) and Canada – and to say I’m excited is an understatement!

Reading to kids is important, not just to instill in them an appreciation for the written word, but to encourage them to use their imaginations in bringing the stories to life. I remember many years ago, when my father first suggested to me, as a child, that I listen to some of the old radio dramas he had on vinyl.

“Listen??” I said. “I’m just going to listen to people tell a story? With no pictures??”

“Trust me,” he replied…and I did.

And my life was changed.

It is in this spirit of imagination – and the spirit of #WRAD – that I produced this video. I hope you enjoy it…

Please feel free to share this video with anyone you know who might appreciate it. And for more poetry, Tabatha is hosting Poetry Friday today with a “Curtain of Bliss” at The Opposite of Indifference – and now that she mentioned it, I think I’m going to call my little studio/pillow fort “The Curtain of Bliss!

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

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


  Coming July 2, 2019!

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 for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’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 Am Someone Else” first peek!

As we approach the end of 2018 – and as those of us who celebrated Christmas attempt to get our lives back into their normal rhythm – I thought I’d share a wonderful surprise gift I received just a few days before Christmas. The proof of the spread of my poem in Lee Bennett Hopkins’ new upcoming children’s poetry anthology, I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, arriving July 2, 2019 from Charlesbridge!

What would it be like to be a wizard, a dancer, a veterinarian, a pilot? The book contains 15 poems about not only “who” a child might like to pretend to be – but why. Here’s the proof of my poem’s page, so far…

(click to enlarge) ©2019 Charlesbridge, all rights reserved, reprinted with permission

Once again, I’m honored to be included in a collection that features so many talented, highly-esteemed writers as former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, Newbery winner Lois Lowry, and many others.

By the way, the annual CYBILS Awards‘ Poetry category shortlist has been officially nailed down, and we’ll be sharing the results soon (Shortlisted titles move on the 2nd Round judges, who will decide the winners in February). For more poetry, head on over to Mainely Write, where my friend Donna Smith has today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

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

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 for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’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!