Halloween picture books and “Flashlight Night”

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

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

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

I had no idea what to expect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

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

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click any of the following covers to order!

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marjorie Maddox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(click to enlarge)

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

(click to enlarge)

What surprised you most about doing this project?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

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

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click any of the following covers to order!

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(click to enlarge)

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

GIVEAWAY!!!

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

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

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

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

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

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

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

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

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

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

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

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

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


     

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Happy #BookBirthday to “Night Wishes!”

It’s here!!

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

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

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

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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

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


     

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: Celebrating Nikki Grimes with…an ABC book?

Yes, indeed!

Irene Latham, who is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup, had a great idea:  to have as many folks as possible joining together to celebrate Nikki Grimes and her poetryfridaybutton-fulllwork! Nikki’s books have won a number awards recently that she has been unable to receive in person due to Covid-19…so we figured we’d do do the next-best thing and recognize her career by sharing some of her books and poems here on Poetry Friday.

Now, many folks in the Poetry Friday community are sharing individual poems by Nikki or selections from her many verse novels like Ordinary Hazards (Wordsong, 2019) or Garvey’s Choice (Wordsong, 2016) – and those absolutely two books you should track down and read – but I wanted to share something a little different.

Finally! We met in-person at NCTE 2019.

You see, C is for City (Boyds Mills & Kane) was the very first Nikki Grimes book I ever read, way back when it was fist published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books in 1995…and little did I know that, 20 years later as a children’s author myself, I would eventually meet, befriend, and actually work with Nikki.

My 28-year-old daughter read this book, her 25-year-old sister read this, and now my two youngest, 10 and 6, have read it…so C is for City has literally grown up with the family! (or is it the other way around?) And it’s just so fun and poetic to read, I knew I needed to share it here.

(Images © Boyds Mills & Kane, all rights reserved)

 

If you’re looking for a unique, fun book for a young child, I encourage you to check out C is for City! It’s available in paperback now from Boyds Mills & Kane, so I feel fortunate I own one of the original hardcovers. (And one of these days, once social distancing is no longer an issue, I’m going to need to get it signed!)

And by the way, I’d also suggest you seek out other books by City‘s incredibly talented illustrator, Pat Cummings – like her debut novel, Trace (Harper Collins, 2019) or Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change (Bloomsbury, 2009).

Be moved, be inspired…and have a wonderful weekend!

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

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

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

Looking for a complete list of all the poetry coming out this year for young people? Then visit Sylvia Vardell’s blog! Also, I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them!

 

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

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


     

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

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

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

Thank you to everyone for your support!

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: Happy #BookBirthday to “Secrets of the Loon!”

It’s been a busy couple of months for new releases:  between the poetry anthology CONSTRUCTION PEOPLE (Wordsong), Vikram Madan’s new HATFUL OF DRAGONS (Wordsong), and Marjore Maddox’s INSIDE OUT (Kelsay Books), the world of children’s lit – and consequently, my blog – has been chock-full of poetry! And now as we head into May, we welcome another new book – this one from my wonderful friend, Laura Purdie Salas.

Laura has written over 125 books, from poetry collections to rhyming picture books to non-fiction – and even books on how to write for children! Her newest book, SECRETS OF THE LOON, is officially out today, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in her home state.

Thanks for coming back to the ol’ Triple-R, Laura! Last time we’d chatted here was last year, in advance of your children’s poetry collection, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT (Wordsong, 2019), and now we have a new book of poetry, also with a nighttime-themed cover! So how did this book come about?

Always happy to visit, and thanks for taking the time to share my work when you have so much of your own exciting news lately!

SECRETS OF THE LOON is totally different from any project I’ve ever worked on. The Minnesota Historical Society Press editor approached me, and the art (photographs by Chuck Dayton) and basic premise (the story of a loon chick’s first summer) already existed.

Shannon knew me and my work and wondered if I’d be interested in writing a kid-friendly story based on science content—and I was! So the basic idea was there, but I could approach it any way I wanted—prose, verse, poetry, etc. It was a strange, challenging, magical process!

Now, this isn’t a collection of poetry – it’s a loose narrative of poetic text – but it’s much more than a “picture book,” in the traditional sense. It’s very much poetry in picture book form! I imagine it must have taken awhile to figure out how you wanted to structure it and what you wanted to say. What was the process like, and was it different from other books you’ve written?

Figuring out the structure felt like it took forever—and yet was actually very fast. The deal was that MHSP had an unexpected open slot in its spring 2020 line-up. Because this project was proposed by Chuck Dayton, a former environmental attorney who has been photographing loons for years, MHSP slotted it into that opening. (Which they could do because they didn’t have to allow for a year for an artist to illustrate it.) I was brought onboard in February 2019. It was the fastest picture book ever, made possible because MHSP prints books here in the United States.

It was very stressful knowing I needed to figure out a form/genre quickly. I tried four different approaches: prose, rhyming, diary, and haiku collection. (I documented the entire process, a full year’s worth, for my Patrons: https://www.patreon.com/LauraPurdieSalas. I’ve also collected all 71 short videos into a case study of writing a nonfiction and/or rhyming picture book: https://writing-for-children.teachable.com/p/writing-a-rhyming-nonfiction-picture-book.) Here are some early excerpts of the possibilities I sent to Shannon:

We all agreed that the rhyming approach showed the most energy and the best fit, so I took it from there.

Wow, I had a feeling it might have taken awhile, but that was a lot of work! So what kind of research did you need to do before beginning your manuscript?

So much research! Even though Moon Loon’s story is a fictional one, it is absolutely scientifically accurate. Every plot element had to correspond with the right age and developmental stage and also with an available photo. It was a huge jigsaw puzzle.

None of the research involved live loon watching, sadly. I wrote the manuscript in spring, when loons are still in warm ocean waters, not here in chilly Minnesota. But I devoured books, writings of scientists and naturalists, websites and resources from loon organizations, and a gazillion videos. Plus Chuck, who not only took the photos but also wrote the backmatter, is a passionate loon enthusiast with many expert contacts.

© 2020 The Minnesota Historical Society Press, used with permission, all rights reserved (click to enlarge)

Here in New Hampshire, we know how tenuous the loon’s existence is, and it’s always a joy when you’re out on the water and suddenly hear that unmistakable call. So who did envision as your audience, your reader? Did you give any thought as to how far beyond the state of Minnesota interest in the loon might exist?

I imagined the audience as any curious young child, as well as adult birders, campers, hikers, north-woods-ers, and nature lovers who care about the creatures of our world.

Since I grew up in Florida, I had never even heard of the common loon until we moved to Minnesota (where it’s our state bird). But who could look at a loonling riding on a parent’s back and not fall in love? They are fascinating birds! The heavy bones, the awkward waddles, the looooonnnnnnnnnng take-offs for flight, and the amazing dives. I think they’re cool for anyone to read about!

(photo by Chuck Dayton; click to enlarge)

The fabulous marketing team at Minnesota Historical Society Press is trying to get the word out nationally, and I was thrilled that Kirkus Reviews reviewed the book. Northern North America will likely be the biggest audience. But Moon Loon’s story is universal: the self-doubt, the fear, the growing independence…I hope it offers something to every reader.

Anything surprise you along the way? Any “secrets” of the loon? 😉

One surprise was how hard it is to wail like a loon! I had to buy a loon stuffie with a real loon call recording inside to use when I read the book aloud to kids. My family got quite a kick out of my strange, strangled-sounding attempts, though.

Another surprise was how poorly loons walk on land. I knew they were water birds, but I didn’t realize their anatomy makes it super awkward for them to traverse land.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope readers take away two things:

  1. Our world and the creatures in it are amazing!
  2. Each of us has fears, but as we learn and grow, we can overcome them all.

Well, thank you for visiting again, Laura! And best wishes with the book. By the way, what can we look forward to next from you?

Thanks! All our in-person book events were canceled, of course, so I’m extra grateful to be able to share it here. We will be having an online book launch party for SECRETS OF THE LOON, though, this Monday, May 4 at 3pm CT on Facebook. It will feature a readaloud by me, a little backstory from Chuck, Q&A, and giveaways of 3 signed copies of the book.

Next up is CLOVER KITTY GOES TO KITTYGARTEN (Two Lions), a fiction picture book coming out August 1, charmingly illustrated by Hiroe Nakata. It’s the story of a kitty who finds school totally overwhelming! It’s my very first totally fiction picture book—whee! (www.laurasalas.com/clover)

Thanks again, Matt. Stay well, and I can’t wait to read ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME!

I appreciate that, Laura. The pleasure is all mine!

And folks, for more info on Laura and photographer Chuck Dayton, check out the following links: 

.

And since you mentioned it, speaking of “Once Upon Another Time”…

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

…Pre-orders are available!

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

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

By the way, it’s Poetry Friday and my friend Liz Steinglass is hosting the festivities – so if you’re looking for more poetry and links, head on over to her blog, where you can find her reading her poetry collection, Soccerverse (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2019)!

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

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

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

The 2020 Progressive Poem has officially concluded!

The annual Progressive Poem, begun several years ago by poet/author/blogger Irene Latham, is a way for the Poetry Friday family and other kidlit bloggers to join together and create a crowd-sourced poem for National Poetry Month. One person writes one line, then another adds another line, until the poem is completed April 30 – yesterday – and who would have thought a poem about a banjo-player taking an early spring walk would end…with a poet who can actually play the banjo! You can view the finished poem at Michelle Kogan’s blog and find all the contributors at the following links:

.
1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, at deo writer
4 Liz Steinglass at Elizabeth Steinglass
6 Kay McGriff at A Journey Through The Pages
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28 Jessica Big at TBD
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan at Michelle Kogan

.
Next week, I’ll be sharing the completed poem here along with my annual recording of it, so I hope you’ll plan to check it out!

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them: books from folks like Diana Murray, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Lori Degman, Michelle Schaub, nancy Castaldo, and many others. I’m very proud to be part of this group of dedicated, talented writers.

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

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: “Inside Out” with Marjorie Maddox

When Marjorie Maddox first approached me about spotlighting her new book, Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises (Kelsay Books), I told her I couldn’t possibly say no!

In fact, given that we already had so many interconnections, I had to yes:  we were both friends of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins and Paul Janeczko; she had recently been featured on the Poetry for Children blog of Sylvia Vardell, who along with Janet Wong have been publishing the Poetry Friday series of poetry anthologies; and she is also a friend of Charles Ghigna, with whom I co-authored Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books), coming out this August.

Add to all this the fact that Marjorie is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University in PA (right near where my ancestors settled back in the mid-1800’s!) and I simply could not deny this alignment of stars.

Inside Out is a collection of original poems, but it’s much more than that; it’s a learning tool that shines a light on everything and anything a poet would ever want to know, from how to write a villanelle, sonnet, or acrostic to how to effectively use metaphor, alliteration, and just about every other poetic device out there.

Winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize, Marjorie has published 11 books of poetry and knows the craft…well, inside and out! Because her book is so rich with guidance, ideas, and suggestions – a perfect book for anyone who wants to learn more about the craft and art of poetry – I thought I would ask her ONE question – the most important question a writer needs to ask when writing a book – and let her take it from there as a guest post.

That question, of course, is…

“Why did this book need to be written?” (The all-important question!) Take it away, Marjorie!

Thanks, Matt. Why was this book written? Because of YOU, Dear Reader!

This is a book about playing with words—fun, pure and simple! Welcome to Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises! Just out from Kelsay Books, Inside Out is geared toward a YA and MG audience—plus their teachers and parents. But you’ll find no restrictions on age or experience here. If you gobble poems for breakfast or are a little hesitant about that first bite, this book is for you.

Inside Out grew out of my more than 30 years of teaching poetry at the college, high school, and elementary levels, of seeing kids of all ages fall in love with metaphors, puns, rhyme, and images. How? By actually stepping into the poem and playing around with metaphors, puns, rhyme, and images.

I begin by inviting readers to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and befriend a poem. No social distancing here when it comes to poetry! Take a listen:

(click to enlarge)

.
And for those a little nervous about even the words “poem,” or “poetry,” this book defuses the fear and opens up a safe space to experiment with ideas—as in the following:
.

Befriending a Poem

Invite him home for dinner,
but don’t insist on rhyme;

he may be as tired and as overworked
as his distant cousin Cliché.

Best to offer intriguing conversation
that’s light on analysis.

Allow for silences and spontaneity.
Most importantly, like any good friend,

be faithful and patient;
remember to listen.

Sometimes he’s shy
and just needs a little time and coaxing.

Much of what he has to say
lies between the lines.

In a series of poems on poetic techniques, I then welcome the reader to step inside a poem about that same technique. Similes, onomatopoeia, paradox, alliteration, eye rhymes. Get the picture? With such tools, you can become anyone from any place. During these times of restricted travel, here’s your free ticket to trekking through time or cruising new sites—right from your own room.

Dramatic Monologue

Step into the words and become
a prince, a pauper, a piece of popcorn,
a philosophical panda, a paranoid piano.
Slip forwards or backwards in time
as Cleopatra or the president of Mars.

No one will interrupt.
The podium is yours.
Go ahead and pontificate.

Inside Inside Out is also a great place to experiment with new forms of poetry. While you and your loved ones are staying home and safe, why not chat with personification, dance with iambic, fish for sestinas, and text with a triolet?

What’s more, there are poems here on penning villanelles (“How to Write a Villanelle”), on scribing English sonnets, (“How to Write an English Sonnet”), on drafting clerihews (“How to Write a Clerihew”), on impersonating personification (“The Frankenstein Poem”)—plus nine lively “magic trick” exercises (connected to the poems) to keep you thinking and creating. Here’s one to try:
.

How to Text a Triolet

If you all want to write a triolet,
it really is no secret what to do.
First concentrate on what you have to say
and if you want to write. A triolet,
says what you said before; it’s déjà vu
though you can always change a word or two
if you all want. To write a triolet,
it really is no secret what to do.
.

A great new way to communicate with friends, right?

Thanks, dear readers, for coming along on this poetic ride. I hope to see you again very soon, inside the poem!

.
Thanks so much, Marjorie! 

Wow, you can sense the enthusiasm, can’t you?? I hope you’ll check out Marjorie’s book – it really is a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration. I also hope you’ll check out Wondering and Wandering, where Christie Wyman is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup!

By the way, in addition to her 11 books of poetry, Marjorie Maddox has published 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. She’s the great-grandniece of Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who helped break the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson to Major League Baseball. The chair of the jury of judges for the 2020 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Book Award, she gives readings and workshops around the country. For more information, visit www.marjoriemaddox.com.

Coming Soon!

  A Crossing of Zebras

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

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

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

The 2020 Progressive Poem continues…

The annual Progressive Poem, begun several years ago by poet/author/blogger Irene Latham, is a way for the Poetry Friday family and other kidlit bloggers to join together and create a crowd-sourced poem for National Poetry Month. One person writes one line, then another adds another line, until a completed poem appears on April 30. Here’s where you can follow along and find all the contributors:

.
1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, at deo writer
4 Liz Steinglass at Elizabeth Steinglass
6 Kay McGriff at A Journey Through The Pages
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28 Jessica Big at TBD
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan at Michelle Kogan

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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! In addition to April’s two releases, there are new books out from folks like Diana Murray, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Lori Degman, Michelle Schaub, and many others. I’m very proud to be part of this group of dedicated, talented writers.

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

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!

Celebrating #EarthDay with a ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME sneak-peek

What’s that they say about the best-laid plans? I had grand ideas for Earth Day today, but everything changed when I went outside this morning and discovered my car battery was dead! Consequently, I had to spend half the day replacing it.

So instead of my original plans, I thought I would share a sneak peek at a couple of spreads from my upcoming picture book with Charles Ghigna, Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books), due out Aug. 18! It’s a poetic journey through human history, beginning with a world that used to exist – and showing how that world can still be found, if you just know where to look…

(click to enlarge) Both images © 2020 Beaming Books, all right reserved

If you’re interested, you can pre-order HERE. Charles and I began this book back in 2012, so we’re thrilled to see our little baby born into the world with Andrés Landazábal’s beautiful illustrations!

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

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

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

The 2020 Progressive Poem continues…

The annual Progressive Poem, begun several years ago by poet/author/blogger Irene Latham, is a way for the Poetry Friday family and other kidlit bloggers to join together and create a crowd-sourced poem for National Poetry Month. One person writes one line, then another adds another line, until a completed poem appears on April 30. Here’s where you can follow along and find all the contributors:

.
1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, at deo writer
4 Liz Steinglass at Elizabeth Steinglass
6 Kay McGriff at A Journey Through The Pages
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28 Jessica Big at TBD
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan at Michelle Kogan

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

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them, too! In addition to April’s two releases, there are new books out from folks like Diana Murray, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Lori Degman, Michelle Schaub, and many others. I’m very proud to be part of this group of dedicated, talented writers.

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

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: Remembering Tomie dePaola AND the 2020 Progressive Poem arrives

It’s been a happy week, a sad, somber week, and a bittersweet week.

Last Thursday, March 30, the inimitable Tomie dePaola passed away, following complications from surgery he underwent after taking a bad fall at his home in New London, NH. All who new him are still in shock at this sudden loss.

www.americamagazine.org/sites/default/files/mai...
There will never be anyone quite like Tomie dePaola.

Although we lived just 20 minutes away from each other, we had never met until about 10 years ago at my first New England SCBWI Spring Conference. (Tomie is the reason the original SCBW, as it was called, changed its name to include illustrators) I had a chance to chat with him and the SCBWI’s Lin Oliver during lunch and it was during that conversation that Lee Bennett Hopkins’ name first came up; I eventually connected with Lee and my career as a children’s writer officially began to gain some momentum!

After lunch, I told Tomie about my occasional trepidation about writing, how I will sometimes write something I think is really good, and worry that that might be the best thing I’ll ever write! I wonder if I’ll ever be able to top it…if anything I ever write again will b as good as this particular piece. So I asked him if he ever felt that way, and if so, what advice he’d offer. His suggestion?

“The first thing I’d do is go have a drink!” he chuckled.

But he added, on a serious note, that we all have doubts about our abilities and question what we do sometimes, and the best thing to do is just keep moving forward, doing what you love and doing it to the best of your ability. And that’s what I do.

My wife and I will both miss him. He was always giving of his time and knowledge, helping to build his fellow humans up. Tomie loved cats and dogs, too, and although he didn’t have any at the time of his death, he enjoyed hearing some of my wife’s stories about our own menagerie of 5 dogs, two cats, a rabbit, and several other critters.

This week is also bittersweet. My friend Lee Bennett Hopkins, whom Lin and Tomie suggested I reach out to way back at that first conference, passed away last August and never had a chance to hold his latest book in his hands. I’m very proud to have known Lee and to be a contributor to Construction People (Wordsong, 2020), one of his final poetry anthologies.

He had been able to see the F&Gs (folded and gathered copies), so he could see what the final product would look like, but it’s still not the same as holding the actual book in yours hands. Lee – whose birthday fittingly falls smack-dab in the middle of National Poetry Month, April 13 – has three more posthumous anthologies on the way, two of which I am also a contributor to, so I’m grateful for that. (One of them, Night Wishes (Eerdmans, 2020), is due out this September)

And it’s an exciting week, as well! In-between helping my two kids with their ‘remote-learning’ – which admittedly takes up the majority of my time these days – I’m in the process of working on a new poetry collection with a friend of mine who is one of the most respected folks in the industry, and we’re about halfway to completion. Meanwhile, Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2020), another collaboration with another highly-regarded fellow, Charles Ghigna, is just about ready to go to print! Charles and I had the opportunity to view the art-final ARC (Advance Review Copy) and it’s BEAUTIFUL! We can’t wait for everyone to see it when it comes out August 18. (And it’s available for pre-order at the link below!)

The 2020 Progressive Poem arrives here today!

The annual Progressive Poem is something that poet/author/blogger Irene Latham began several years ago as a way for the Poetry Friday family and other kidlit bloggers to join together and create a crowd-sourced poem for National Poetry Month. One person would write one line, and then it would travel from blog to blog each day, with each blogger adding a line, until we had a completed poem on April 30. Irene has been super-busy lately, so this year she handed off the organizational duties to Margaret Simon, who has pulled everyone together once again.

This year, Donna Smith started things off with a twist: she offered two lines for the following blogger to choose from; that happened to be Irene, who offered up two other lines from which the third blogger, Jone MacCulloch, could choose. So far, here’s what the poem looks like, with my two potential new lines added in bold:
.

Sweet violets shimmy, daffodils sway
along the wiregrass path to the lake.
I carry a rucksack of tasty cakes
and a banjo passed down from my gram.

I follow the tracks of deer and raccoon
and echo the call of a wandering loon.
A whispering breeze joins in our song.
and night melts into a rose gold dawn.

Deep into nature’s embrace, I fold.

Splinters of sunbeams pierce young sky
Promise of spring helps shake the cold

.
These took me quite awhile to nail down, I’ll admit; with the rhythm and assonance of the line endings, I kept feeling like the poem needed to rhyme, but with no discernible rhyme scheme I figured I’d just let it grow the way it felt best. So now I’ll let my friend Janet Fagal decide which of these she wants to seize upon! Have fun, Janet!

.
Like to follow along? Here’s where you can find all the contributors to this year’s Progressive Poem:
.
1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, at deo writer
4 Liz Steinglass at Elizabeth Steinglass
6 Kay McGriff at A Journey Through The Pages
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28 Jessica Big at TBD
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan at Michelle Kogan

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It’s Poetry Friday, which means there’s plenty more links and poetic fun over at Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s The Poem Farm – she’s handling the hostess duties today, so please visit and say hello!

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If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll check out my “Wit & Wordplay” videos on my YouTube channel! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) and focus on how to write poetry, how to appreciate it, and offer tips on having fun with it. More are on the way, too, so be sure to subscribe or check back often! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website. If you think any of this information might be useful for someone you know, I hope you’ll share.

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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!

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

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: Kicking off National Poetry Month with a Giveaway Winner (ALSO: the NEA Read Across America Book of the Month)

Last Friday, we celebrated the release of Vikram Madan’s brand-new children’s poetry collection, ‘A HATFUL OF DRAGONS’ (Wordsong, 2020), which officially arrives in April. Out of all the folks who left comments to enter a drawing to win a free copy, the one name that was selected at random was…

MARGARET SIMON!

Congratulations, Margaret! Be sure to email me your mailing address so the good folks at Boyds Mills & Kane can send you your copy. And thank you so much for visiting the ol’ Triple-R!

(If you didn’t get a chance to check out my interview with Vikram, you can still find it HERE)

Now, for today’s poem…I was looking through the National Education Association’s list of “Books of the Month” that they are using to promote their Read Across America initiative when I came across this cover, for April:

Former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis edited this third book in National Geographic’s series of poetry/photography coffee table books, and I was so proud to contribute to this book when it came out two years ago, I felt I had to share my poem here…

And yes, Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’ kept going through my mind while I thought about the Nevada sands, giant structures, and my blank verse sonnet…so I had to give a tip of the hat at the very end. What a book for National Poetry Month! I’m so honored to be included in a book that contains poetry from such diverse people as Robert Frost, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jane Yolen, and so many others.

(By the way, if you’d like to learn more about some of the attractions I make reference to in the poem, check out “The Strat”‘s official website!)

Since it’s Poetry Friday, you’ll probably want to check out all the other links and fun, so head over to My Juicy Little Universe where Heidi Mordhorst is handling her hosting with aplomb (we need more plombs, no that I think about it) and sharing two poems – one from H.D. (aka, Hilda Doolittle, an incredible American poet with whom you may be unfamiliar) and one from Billy Collins!

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

For some time now I’ve been wanting to help my educator and parent friends with educational videos geared to understanding poetry, and now my “Wit & Wordplay” videos, as I call them, are available on my YouTube channel! These videos focus on poetry: how to write it, how to appreciate it, and tips on having fun with it. There are several ready for viewing, and more are on the way – so be sure to subscribe or check back often!

You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website. If you think any of this information might be useful for someone you know, I hope you’ll share.

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

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

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!

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

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!