“Once Upon Another Time” cover reveal!!

Today’s the day!

Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2020) is my new picture book written with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®) – and the talented and inimitable Tara Lazar is hosting the official cover reveal on her blog! Tara’s been busy with Storystorm all January and will be announcing winners this week – so I’m extremely honored that she was willing to share our “baby pictures” (courtesy of illustrator Andrés F. Landazábal) with the world today.

Click HERE to visit Tara’s blog!

(And then be sure to pre-order the book!)

Speaking of the new book, I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year. So be watching for news about Once Upon Another Time as well as blog posts and reviews of a whole bunch more – including six in February…

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

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: A picture book cover reveal is coming!

Managed to come up with 32 ideas, and at least 5 or 6 have solid potential! (The rest have liquid potential and at least a couple are gaseous)

I have a short, simple post today:  a reminder that we have a cover reveal coming up THIS MONDAY, Feb. 10., for Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2020), my new picture book written with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®)!

The book comes out Aug. 18, and author/kidlit blogger extraordinaire Tara Lazar will be hosting the official cover reveal on her blog! Tara’s been busy with Storystorm all January, so now that things are settling down, we get to have a  first-look at this book.

Illustrator Andrés F. Landazábal’s soft, pastoral imagery is both bright and serene, brilliant and calming. In a word, gorgeous – and I’m not just saying that because it’s my book! To whet your appetite, I’m sharing the first few lines of the book. Charles and I are both poets at heart (even though I never call myself a ‘poet’), and we wrote this book as a lyrical look at Nature before humans left their mark, contrasting past with present:
.

Once upon another time
in a land of long ago,
mountains peeked up through the clouds,
bright with fallen snow.

Rivers rushed through canyon walls.

Rainbows rose from waterfalls.

Wonder waited in the hush
of every new sunrise…

.
(text by Charles Ghigna & Matt Forrest Esenwine, © 2020 Beaming Books)
.

I can’t wait for you to see the cover – and we’ll even include one of the spreads, too! So be sure to join me at Tara’s place THIS MONDAY, Feb. 10.

Speaking of the new book, I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year. So be watching for news about Once Upon Another Time as well as blog posts and reviews of a whole bunch more – including six in February…

For more poetry, please visit my friend Laura Purdie Salas, who is hosting the complete Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, Writing the World for Kids!
.

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

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: Madness! Poetry returns PLUS the #2020BookLook

Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again; Madness! Poetry – the brainchild of one Ed DeCaria – is the world’s largest bracketed children’s poetry competition (and quite possibly the only one), and it all begins in one month!

Ed is in the process of accepting and sorting through applications, but the premise is still the same as always:  64 “authletes,” as we are called, are paired with one another and given a specific word; we then have 36 hours to write a children’s poem using that exact word.

So 32 words, 32 new poems!

Here’s an example from last year, when I had to come up with a poem using the word “brace” in only 36 hours:

Second Thoughts

This homemade toboggan’s a real dream come true!
A few wooden planks,
…..some twine,
……….some glue,
and here I am racing down Breakyerneck Hill
with goggles and helmet
and sheer force of will.

The one little thing that is worrying me
is that shed near that car
…..near that rock
…..…..near that tree.
I’ve lost all control and my rope is undone –
…..so I’m bracing for impact
……………in three…
…………………………two…
………………………………….one……!

– © 2019 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

.
Once the poems have been submitted, the public votes for their favorites and the winning “authlete” of each poem then moves to the next round. This continues until the field is narrowed down to just 2 writers…one of whom is crowned Madness! Poetry champion and wins the “Thinkier” trophy!

If you’d like to apply, begin by filling out the application and then follow the Madness! Poetry Facebook page so you can stay updated and find out if you made it in!

Don’t forget, we have a cover reveal coming for Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2020), my new picture book written with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®)!  The book comes out August 18, and author/kidlit blogger Tara Lazar will be hosting the official cover reveal on her blog Feb. 10, as soon as she wraps up this year’s Storystorm!

And speaking of the new book, I’ve teamed up with several children’s authors like fellow authlete Lori Degman (who beat me last year, but I won’t hold a grudge), former fellow Poet’s Garage crit group member Diana Murray, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Michelle Schaub, and many others to promote our upcoming books this year. So be watching for news about this book as well as blog posts and reviews of a whole bunch more – including six in February alone!:

Looking for more poetry? For all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun, head over to Jone MacCulloch’s blog, Deowriter, for some postcard poetry AND a giveaway!
.

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

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: Looking back at 2019 and welcoming 2020 with CYBILS Awards finalists!

The last night these little babies will be lit. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

While everyone seems to be thrilled with the promise of what lies ahead for us in 2020, I’m still reflecting on how incredible 2019 was for me.

“It was a very good year…”

Professionally speaking, it was probably the best year I’ve had so far since I began this journey in 2009, with FIVE manuscripts sold – including a picture book written with the incomparable Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®). I had set a goal for myself of selling one manuscript per year – not unattainable, but certainly not a slam-dunk sort of thing for someone who is still in the early stages of his career. So 2019 really surprised me!

Elsewhere, I had a poem included in the late Lee Bennett Hopkins’ anthology, I Am Someone Else (Charlesbridge, 2019) and a couple of other poems found themselves in Michelle H. Barnes’ newest poetry anthology. I also was asked by Kristen Wixted and Heather Kelly at The Writer’s Loft in Massachusetts if my friend Kip Wilson (White Rose, Versify, 2019) and I would help judge poems for their new anthology, Friends and Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children. (How awesome a title is that??)

So proud to be part of this crew! NCTE presenters, L-R: Mary Lee Hahn, Liz Steinglass, Yours Truly, Heidi Mordhorst, Laura Purdie Salas

Other significant accomplishments included having a poem included in an important Donald Hall tribute anthology; another poem winning the Robert Frost Farm and Derry (NH) Public Library’s MacGregor Poetry Prize; seeing Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills and Kane, 2017) on the short list for two New Hampshire Literary Awards for Best Picture Book; and attending my first NCTE conference in Baltimore, where I co-presented a poetry workshop (“Wonder as a Way In: Teaching Reading and Writing Poetry through Inquiry”) with a number of fellow writer friends. The fact that I got to visit Edgar Allan Poe’s grave site – as well as family members I’ve not seen in years – was icing on the proverbial cake!

In-between all this, I also managed to sell my parents’ house, which had been a huge time-depleting and emotionally draining project. So yes, I’m looking forward to seeing what 2020 has waiting for me, but I’m pretty proud of everything I’ve accomplished in 2019.

What IS waiting in 2020? Well, aside from Friends and Anemones (which comes out in November), that picture book I wrote with Charles Ghigna is scheduled for an August 18 publication date from Beaming Books (keep watching here for a cover-reveal SOON!).

“But wait, there’s more!”

Two of those manuscripts I sold last year (board books from Rainstorm Publishing) are planned for release this summer and a third manuscript, a picture book, might also sneak in before the end of the year. On top of all this, the new poetry anthology Construction People (Wordsong, 2020), one of Lee Bennett Hopkins’ final anthologies, has a March 17 release date…and I just learned about two weeks ago that I will be part of another anthology coming out within the next year or so.

Oh, and did I mention I’m participating in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm 2020 this month? No? Well, I am – because, you know, no matter how many ideas a writer has, one can never have too many!

So yes, I have a lot to look forward to in 2020, much of it due to good fortune that occurred in 2019. One final thing we can all look forward to in 2020 are the CYBILS Awards! Out of all the books nominated last fall, finalists have now been officially announced, and I was proud to once again be part of the first-round panel of judges who determined the poetry finalists:

Dreams from Many Rivers: A Hispanic History of the United States Told in Poems (Henry Holt) (AmazonIndieBound)
by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Beatriz Gutierrez Hernandez

Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience (Triangle Square) (AmazonIndieBound)
Edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond

Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir (Wordsong) (AmazonIndieBound)
by Nikki Grimes

Other Words for Home (Balzer + Bray) (AmazonIndieBound)
by Jasmine Warga

SHOUT (Viking Books for Young Readers) (Amazon,IndieBound)
by Laurie Halse Anderson

Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer (Wordsong) (AmazonIndieBound)
by Elizabeth Steinglass, illustrated by Edson Ike

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems (Candlewick Press) (Amazon,IndieBound)
by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Richard Jones

You can read all about them HERE. There was a great deal of quality writing this year and it was very difficult for us to come to a decision about which seven books would move on to the second round, but congratulations to all, and I wish the judges good luck with a task that is decidedly not easy.

What’s this, you want more poetry? Well, for all of today’s Poetry Friday links, please visit Carol’s Corner for the complete roundup, featuring a very appropriate poem from Maya Angelou. And thank you so much for all the support you’ve lent – it really means a lot, as I continue to move forward in this career I’ve found myself in. Best wishes for health, happiness, and success for you, as well, in the year ahead!

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

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: “Construction People” preview! (and an NCTE review!)

One of the highlights of my 4-day visit to the National Council of Teachers of English annual convention in Baltimore (aka, #NCTE19) was getting to spend some time with my friends at Boyds Mills & Kane, the publisher of Flashlight Night and many of the poetry anthologies of which I’ve been a part.

In addition to poets Nikki Grimes, Georgia Heard, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Laura Purdie Salas, and many others, I finally had a chance to catch up with marketing manager Kerry McManus, who has been invaluable in helping promote my book for the past 3 years. I also got to say hello again to my Flashlight Night editor, Rebecca Davis, who surprised me with something…

I think my first words were, “We have a book! It’s a real book!!”

Construction People, the follow-up to 2018’s popular School People, is one of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins’ final poetry anthologies; Hopkins passed away in August and left about a half-dozen projects in various states of progress, including this one. I was told he had seen the F&Gs (folded & gathered) like the one above, but never had a chance to hold the bound, finished product in his hands. I know he would have been as proud of his book as we, the contributors, are of being part of it – it’s already received a starred review from Kirkus!

How I end up in books with luminaries like Pat Lewis and Charles Ghigna is still a mystery…but a happy mystery!
All pages © 2020 Wordsong/Boyds Mills & Kane, all rights reserved (click to enlarge)

I’ll be sharing more selections and news about the book a few months from now, along with my poem (a villanelle, for you poetry geeks out there) in its entirety when it is officially released on March 17. But you don’t need to wait – you can pre-order now!

At the Boyds Mills & Kane exhibit booth: a tribute to the inimitable Dear One, Lee Bennett Hopkins.
After all these years…I’m finally face-to-face with Nikki Grimes!
Laura Purdie Salas helped guide me through the ins and outs of the crazy-busy NCTE schedule. (And she helped keep me fed, too, which is always a plus)

Another highlight of my trip – indeed, the initial reason I decided to go – was a poetry workshop I presented together with Heidi Mordhorst, Mary Lee Hahn, Laura Purdie Salas, and Liz Steinglass, who organized the workshop. What a weekend! I’ve never presented a workshop at a conference I’d never attended before…but there’s a first time for everything, they say, and this was mine.

To backtrack just a bit, the night I arrived, author/poet/blogger Laura Shovan gathered a bunch of Poetry Friday folks together at a local restaurant and we filled up half the place:

Back row, L-R: Heidi Mordhorst, Christie Wyman, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Kathryn Apel, Tabatha Yeatts, Janet Fagal, Yours Truly. Front row, L-R: Carol Varsalona, Irene Latham, Laura Purdie Salas, Laura Shovan (photo courtesy Laura Purdie Salas)

The next day, Friday, the day of our workshop, more of us got together at a local sandwich shop (because all we apparently live for is eating and writing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that):

L-R: Tim Kulp, Linda Kulp, Marcie Flinchum Atkins, David L. Harrison, Liz Steinglass, Yours Truly, Irene Latham, Kathryn Apel. (photo courtesy Laura Purdie Salas)

And of course, I couldn’t travel all the way to my original hometown of Baltimore without making a little side trip to visit a certain poet:

   

If you’re looking for more poetry, then be sure to head over to today’s Poetry Friday roundup, where Tanita S. Davis is hosting the festivities at her blog, [fiction, instead of lies]!

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

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

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: “October Daybreak”

(click to enlarge)

You may have seen this photo a week or so ago when I shared it on Instagram and Facebook…I took it around 6:30 one morning as the sun was just starting to break through the trees that line the field across the road from our house. I loved watching the ebb and flow of the dense fog, as if it was my own personal cloud. I knew at some point I’d have to write a poem about it.

Today, I did!

And by the way, I’m very excited to share the news that I’ll be one of the authors Boyds Mills & Kane is sponsoring for one of their tables at the NCTE Conference’s Children’s Book Awards Luncheon next month! This year is my first attending The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference, so I’m thrilled to not only be able to go, but to be able to represent Flashlight Night‘s publisher.

And the day before the luncheon, I’ll be presenting a poetry-focused workshop with authors and educators Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Steinglass, Heidi Mordhorst, and Mary Lee Hahn – so you can imagine how eager I am to hang out in my birth city of Baltimore with so many writer and teacher friends!

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, head over to Karen Edmisten’s blog , where she is also celebrating October with a poem by Helen Hunt Jackson.

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

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

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: We have a winner! Finding poetic treasures within “Finding Treasure”…

Before we get to all the found poetry that’s been pouring in – and before we announce our winner of a free book! – I have some exciting news to share…

Click the cover to vote!

Thursday afternoon I was astounded to learn that Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2017) has been shortlisted as a finalist for the New Hampshire Literary Awards – and voting for the Reader’s Choice Awards ends in TWO DAYS, Sat. night Sept. 28, at midnight! So if you’re a NH resident and you feel my little book is worthy, I’d appreciate you clicking THIS LINK and voting. Thank you!

It really is an honor simply to be included on a list with other Granite State authors and poets like Eric Pinder, Jessica Purdy, former NH Poet Laureate Patricia Fargnoli, and fellow BM&K author Sandra Neil Wallace. So please vote for your favorites!

Now, then…

Two weeks ago, I spotlighted Michelle Schaub and her brand-new poetry collection, Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections (Charlesbridge, 2019) – and offered a PERSONALLY-SIGNED COPY to one lucky winner.

And boy, oh boy, a lot of people are hoping to be that lucky winner!

All one needed to do to enter the giveaway was share a found poem based her poem, “Collecting Stars:”

A “found poem” is simply a poem that uses the words from one source – like a magazine, newspaper, book, etc. –  to create a poem. So in this case, readers took the words from Michelle’s poem and re-created them into new poems of their own. I shared several of the poems last Friday, so here are the newest ones:

Around the Yard

flashes in darkness
the dance of starlight
floats free

– Kathy Mazurowski

.

untitled

sparks dance
and beckon
embers glow
sparks float
free
good-bye

– Kathleen L. Armstrong

.

Embers

Specks of light
spark and dance
I watch them float free
when darkness deepens

– Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

.

untitled

darkness deepens
purple sky
sparks of starlight
way up high

sky festooned with
dancing light
colors pulsing
dazzling sight

– Cheriee Weichel

.

Star Collecting *

They come
When darkness deepens
A reminder to share

My own
Sparks of starlight
With tender care

Absorb, release them
to the night

Heart-carry
into morning’s light.

– Linda Trott Dickman

* (Matt’s note: while not a ‘found poem’ by definition, it still gets an “A” and an entry!)

.
untitled

Come fill a mason jar
Come so

To catch and watch
The darkness glow…

I know it’s hard
It’s free, though…

– © Karen Eastlund, 2019

.

and because this has been such a fun exercise, another one from Yours Truly…
.

Captured

Specks of light dance and glow;
beckon,
…..come!

The yard, a jar they fill.

Stars catch us…
and watch.

– © 2019, Matt F. Esenwine

.

According to the trusty Random.org website, our completely randomly-selected winner is…

LINDA BAIE!

Congratulations, Linda! Thanks so much for submitting your poem last week, and I’ll be sure to get your book in the mail asap. In the meantime, if anyone is still looking for more poetry (and who isn’t?) Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link has today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

The “Finding Treasure” Blog Tour concludes today at Jama’s Alphabet Soup!  ALSO: Be sure to check out Michelle’s brand-new poetry/literacy-focused blog!

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

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: Michelle Schaub’s “Finding Treasure” interview & GIVEAWAY!

Michelle Schaub, author of Fresh-Picked Poetry, A Day at the Farmers’ Market (Charlesbridge, 2017), has a brand-new collection of poems coming out this Tue., Sept. 17 – about collections!

Michelle and I first met way back in Oct. 2013 at a Highlights poetry workshop. We were both in the very-early stages of our careers at that point, so it’s been interesting to see how our experiences have differed up to this point. And now that she has another new book coming out, I thought it was about time I asked her to visit the ol’ Triple-R!

First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me, Michelle! I have to say, I’m so happy to see you with not one, but TWO poetry collections to your name. Knowing where both of us were six years ago, how would you say your writing – and career – have developed? Are you writing differently, approaching the craft differently?

Thrilled to be here, Matt! And thrilled to follow your writing successes also, especially the recent news about your upcoming book with Charles Ghigna, Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2020). Congratulations! Speaking of “another time,” I can’t believe that Highlights workshop was six years ago! When I headed off to the conference, I was just starting to tinker with a set of poems about farmers’ markets, but I really didn’t know how to put together a poetry collection. In the subsequent year it took me to write and revise Fresh-Picked Poetry, A Day at the Farmers’ Market, I learned a lot, not only about different poetry forms, but about stringing poems together to create a collection with an arc and flow.

What did you learn about children’s poetry early on – either at the workshop or elsewhere – that you feel has been most helpful?

Children’s author David Harrison, who was the guest teacher at the Highlights poetry workshop, was a superb mentor.  He taught me that less is more with children’s poetry. I came to David with these long, detailed poems about farmers’ markets. Brandishing his pen, David deftly slashed unnecessary descriptions but spared strong verbs and specific nouns. He taught me how to make my poems work in tandem with illustrations.

Now about this new book. It’s a poetry collection about collections! How did you come up with the idea, and how did you go about putting the poems and book together?

The idea first arose when I was participating in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm a few years ago.  In this challenge, writers come up with one new picture book idea a day for the entire month of January. Toward the end of the month, running low on ideas, I started looking around my office for any brainstorm sparks. My eyes landed on a row of seashells on my bookshelf. I’d saved them from my grandmother’s shell collection. Hmm, seashells. Collections. What else do people collect? Coins. Keys. Baseball cards. Could I write poems about those things? Would kids even be interested in collection poems?

Then I remembered that my town’s library has collection display windows in the children’s department. When my own children were younger, they signed up to showcase their own prized objects in those windows. The waiting list was two years! Those display windows are still filled each month, and the waiting list is still long. I started noticing that other libraries have collection displays also. This led me to believe that I’d have an audience for poems about the time-honored hobby of collecting.

Michelle also “collects a variety of styles and forms in her collection, as witnessed by this spread, one of my favorites!

I guess every idea has to come from somewhere! So once you knew the subject, how did you figure out how to connect the poems?

When I started writing the poems, I knew I needed something to hold the collection together and entice readers to turn the page. So, I came up with a narrative arc. A child is given a school assignment to bring in something she collects for show and tell. The only problem: she doesn’t collect anything!  The child searches for the perfect collection by consulting family, friends, and neighbors, who share their collections through poems. By the end of the book, the child has discovered the perfect collection. It isn’t “pebbles, shells, or twigs… or quirky whirlygigs,” but it is something that brings her joy. Can you guess? Read the final poem in Finding Treasure to see if you’re right!

People always ask me this question, and it’s impossible to answer…so I’ll ask you! (ha!) Do you have a favorite poem or spread in the book?

That is a tough question! Carmen Saldaña did such an amazing job with the illustrations in Finding Treasure that I’m in love with each spread. However, I think my favorite might be the one for the poem, “Collecting Stars.” In this poem, after searching for a collection all day, the child heads outside to try and collect fireflies. I love how Carmen captured the cozy glow of the fireflies against the starry sky.

That IS a beautiful spread – reminds me of my own yard! Now, I recall you mentioning to me that when doing final revisions for Fresh-Picked Poetry (also from Charlesbridge), a poem about heirloom tomatoes didn’t make the cut. Anything get axed for this book?

There is one poem that didn’t make the cut for Finding Treasure. It was called “Curious Collections,” about strange things people collect. While I was researching ideas for the book, I came across some pretty bizarre collections, like toenail clippings and dust bunnies, which I included in this poem. I thought the illustration for the poem could show the protagonist searching on the internet for collection ideas. Ultimately, my editor at Charlesbridge, Karen Boss, and I decided that we wanted to focus more on collections that were positive and unique, but not strange. So “Curious Collections” was replaced with “The ‘Gist of Collecting,” which is about items that scientists collect in the name of research.

By the way, I’m constantly being asked how to get into children’s publishing…and other than the standard, “practice the craft, learn the market, develop contacts” answer I usually give (which is a pretty concise, honest answer), do you have any words of wisdom you’ve gleaned from the past several years?

Since you started this interview by mentioning Highlights Workshops, I’ll end on that note. I think attending a Highlights Workshop is a phenomenal way to hone your craft and connect with other writers. After all, that’s how we met!

Well, thank you again for visiting, Michelle, I really appreciate it! Oh, and I was very humbled and honored to see you had dedicated the book “To Matt, my treasure.” I opened up the book and saw that and nearly started crying.

Ha, Ha. Yes, the book is dedicated to Matt Schaub. My husband. (Not the football player.) But you are a treasure, too, Matt!

Oh, ok! Well, thank you, anyway – I’ll try not to take it too hard. But I do appreciate you stopping by, and wish you the best! (And if you like Michelle’s book, I have a signed copy to give away…)

What have I been collecting? Well, lately…these.

Since Michelle’s book is about ‘collecting’ things, I thought it might be fun to ‘collect’ some poems from her “Collecting Stars” poem, above! If you want to enter the contest, just leave a found poem here in the comments, or email me your poem at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com. In case you don’t know, a “found poem” is simply a poem one writes by taking the words from one source and rearranging them into something new. So your poem doesn’t need to be long – or even any good! – it just needs to include only words from Michelle’s poem, above.

You only have 2 weeks to enter, as I’ll announce the winner by a random drawing on Fri. morning, Sept. 27 when I share all the poems here on the blog. The winner receives a PERSONALLY-signed copy of Michelle’s book! How cool is that?? Good luck, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing your poems!

The “Finding Treasure” Blog Tour continues this month:

This Writing Life – Sept. 16
The Grog – Sept. 18
Picture Book Buzz – Sept. 20
Jama’s Alphabet Soup – Sept. 27

ALSO: Be sure to check out Michelle’s brand-new poetry/literacy-focused blog!

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It’s Poetry Friday! Looking for more poetic posts? Then be sure to stop by Laura Purdie Salas’ blog, Writing the World for Kids, where she hosting today’s roundup with a celebration of the release of HER new poetry collection!

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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: 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!

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

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!