Poetry Friday: The Return of David Elliott… from 9 years ago!

When I shared the news about my friend David Elliott’s newest book, The Seventh Raven (HMH, 2021), in last Friday’s post, I had no idea I was about to create a month-long Elliottfest…

…but apparently that is precisely what I’ve done.

You see, I had asked David if he’d mind joining me for an interview at the end of April – which he will – but it occurred to me that some, if not most, of my readers would be unaware of the conversation we had waaaaay back in 2013. Since that interview had been posted on the now-defunct Poetry at Play blog, I realized there was no way for anyone to be able to read or even reference that post. I therefore did the only thing that seemed to make sense.

Reposted it here!

So yes, I featured David Elliott’s latest book two weeks ago; I’m re-posting my original interview with him from 9 years ago here today; and at the end of the month, David and I will be back with a brand-new interview about craft and verse novels. (“It’s ALL David, ALL the time…!”)

(Keep in mind, this is the original transcript, so some comments may sound dated – for example, the YA novel he was working on became Bull – but I hope you enjoy!)

Although David Elliot was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, that didn’t prevent him from travelling the world and collecting myriad experiences.  Over the years, he worked as a singer in Mexico, an English teacher in Libya, a cucumber-washer in Greece, and a popsicle-stick-maker in Israel. David also studied classical voice at a conservatory, with dreams of becoming an opera singer. The problem, he says, is that he wasn’t very good.

Fortunately for the world of children’s literature, David became a New York Times bestselling children’s author. His many picture books and chapter books include: And Here’s to You! (Candlewick, 2009), The Transmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle (Walker Books Ltd., 2001), The Evangeline Mudd books (Candlewick), Finn Throws a Fit! (Candlewick, reprint, 2011), Jeremy Cabbage and the Living Museum (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008), and most recently the picture book, In the Wild (Candlewick, 2010).

As of this writing, David has six new picture books under contract, due to be published within the next couple of years, and he is working on a YA novel and a new middle grade book. If you’d like to learn more about David and his books, visit www.davidelliottbooks.com.

First of all, thank you, David, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us!  Did you ever imagine yourself being this busy, back when you were washing cucumbers in Greece, or making popsicle sticks in Israel? And wouldn’t it have been easier to just wash cukes or make popsicle sticks here in the States??

Maybe. But think of all the fantastic food I would have missed out on.

Seriously, though, how did you come to finally discover your true calling and end up back home in the U.S.?

 Oh, dear. Do I have a true calling? But to answer your question, after many years of traveling and working abroad, making popsicle sticks, washing cucumbers (the most Freudian job ever!), teaching in Libya, singing in Mexico, I came back because as transformative as those years were, the truth is they were also very lonely, better suited to a comic novel, maybe, than to a real life. I have a big stack of journals from those years. One day, maybe, I’ll write that novel.

Anyone who uses the word “transmogrification” in the title of a children’s book must have fun while he’s writing!  Does it ‘feel’ like work, and do you ever wonder if you’ll ever end up having a ‘real job’ again?

When the paperback of The Transmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle (Candlewick, 2004) came out, the sales staff wanted to get rid of that word transmogrification and call the book Roscoe Wizzle. I try to be as collaborative as I can when it comes to these things – and they come much more frequently than one might think – but in this case I put my foot down. I didn’t want to dumb down the title because adults were scared that it was “too hard.” 

I felt vindicated a couple of months later during a school visit when an eight-year-old boy came running up to me after my presentation. “Transmogrification!” he said. “Transmogrification! When I hear that word, it just makes me want to read the book.” You know, I’ve heard adults mangle that word over and over again, but never, not once, has a child mispronounced it. Sometimes, I think it might be part of the writer’s job to protect children from what the adults in charge of their lives think about them.

For me, writing is a real job, and hard work, even, or perhaps more accurately, especially the funny stuff and the picture books.

Now, you write in a variety of styles, including poetry, picture books, and chapter books…do you prefer one style over another?  

Not really. Each has its challenges just as each as its pleasures.  There are so many books out there. That’s great, of course, but it can also be a bit discouraging. And do we really need another vampire book? Another adventure series? Another this or that?  In fact, we probably do. My problem is that I’m not interested in writing them. At the moment, I’m interested in experimenting with new structures, new ways of telling a story.

Books like In the Wild (Candlewick, 2010) and In the Sea (Candlewick, 2012) contain some great examples of children’s poetry that are written in simple language but are quite thoughtful and full of emotion.  Is it difficult to find that balance? And what is your process for determining how you want to present a poetry subject or idea?

First, thanks for the kind words. Each of the three books in the series (two more on the way) presented a different challenge. On the Farm was perhaps the most straightforward. We all know what a farm is and without ever opening the book could guess what animals we might find between the end pages. (I did try to include some of the undomesticated animals that are present on a farm, too: the turtle, bees, a garter snake). In the end, a farm is a kind of container. Additionally, if we hear the word cow, we share a set of emotional responses because, in one way or another, we have all grown up with cows, or at the very least, the idea of cows. 

But when it came to In the Wild, I was stumped. First there is no container. These animals are found all over the world and there are tens of thousands of them. How to choose just 14 or so? (My editor and I settled on the iconic.) Then, I discovered that I knew very little beyond the obvious when it came to the animals. Since it’s the writer’s job to say something new, I spent weeks, reading, looking at pictures, watching YouTube videos of the animals in the book, trying to get not just information about them but a feeling for them, too. 

Then there was the complicating factor that many of the animals in the book are endangered. On one hand, it felt, disrespectful to both the animals represented and to the children reading the poems to ignore this sad truth; on the other, I didn’t want to write a book that said Too bad kids, by the time you are adults, some these animals won’t exist.. I tried to solve the problem with last poem and its page turn. “The Polar Bear.”  By the way, we don’t talk or think enough about page turns in picture books. In the best ones, they carry as much meaning as the text.

After starting In the Sea, I completely understood the expression “a cold fish.”  They’re rather hard to feel warm and fuzzy about. In the end, I decided to think about the various forms in the ocean. Since many fish have the same basic shape, I wanted to give the late Holly Meade, the illustrator, something to work with. I feel incredibly lucky to have been paired with Holly. She brought so much to these books.  Some of you may not know that she left us in April of this year. A sad and terrible loss.

If I can, I’d like to give a plug for On the Wing, coming out fall 2014 with art by a wonderful new illustrator, Becca Stadtlander. As a whole, the poems in the book might be my favorite of the four volumes thus far. But they were very, very difficult. All birds have feathers, beaks and they fly – at least the ones we chose for the book do. What more was there to say? It was very challenging because most of us know very little about individual species of birds, so there was not a lot of common knowledge I could rely on.

The bower bird, for example, a very plain species native to Australia, builds a complicated structure on the ground. He then adorns it with flowers and shells, anything colorful he can find  in order to lure a paramour into what is literally his love nest. Who knew? 

Here’s the poem.

The Bower Bird

No fancy feathers,

to attract a mate,

first  he builds

then decorates

his bower.

How carefully

he constructs

the walls.

(The halls

he fills

with flowers.)

And how anxiously 

he arranges

the bright  tokens

he collects.

O pity then

the bower bird.

Nature’s fussy,

lovesick architect.

Beautiful, David – and so personal the reader can actually empathize with the bird. You know, it’s always an open-ended question to ask someone ‘where’ they get their inspiration; for most of us, it comes from everywhere. So let me ask, how do you deal with the inspiration you get? That is, how do you know if an idea is worth your attention, and what do you do with it?

This is something that plagues me. I’m never at a loss for ideas. But what I’m always afraid of is that I’m not up to executing them in the way they deserve. I’m rather slow on the uptake. I kept the first draft of Roscoe in my drawer for eight years before I really understood what the book wanted to be.

Recently, I’ve been reading and rereading Homer, Ovid, Virgil and along with them, some modern retellings. (David Malouf’s Ransom is one of the best things I’ve read in years. Now, I’m reading his An Imaginary Life. Equally as wonderful.) All this has me thinking about the relationship between the Greek and Roman gods and the mortals who worshipped them. Those gods required a lot: supplication, sacrifice, interpretation, belief.

This seems to me a wonderful metaphor for the relationship between artists and their inspiration. How much are we willing to humble ourselves before it? How much are we willing to sacrifice? How much are willing to listen to the oracular voice? How much are we willing to believe? This last is perhaps the most frightening question.

I so wish I had understood this earlier in my career. These questions will be very much at the forefront of my mind (and heart) as I continue to work on new and longer projects.

“Buffalo,” from In the Wild, © 2010 Candlewick, all rights reserved

Your chapter book, Jeremy Cabbage, is about a young orphan boy – a sort of cross between Oliver Twist and Lemony Snicket’s Beaudelaire siblings – who goes into the world on an adventure. Did you see your globe-trotting self in Jeremy, and how have you used your life experiences in other books?

In a way, all books are autobiographical since it is the life experience, sensibilities, instincts and education of the particular author that make the book.  In my case, it is perhaps not the external circumstances in which Jeremy finds himself, but the emotional content of the book that is closest to how I felt as a child and still sometimes feel as an adult.

Folks like J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen say inspiration is over-rated – that success more often comes via the “BIC” rule (Butt In Chair). In other words, sit down and get to work! What are your thoughts on this approach?

Isn’t it the only approach? One of my favorite quotes about writing comes from the writer, Octavia Butler. (Kindred remains one of the most under-appreciated books in print. Everyone should read it.) Anyway, she put it very succinctly: “Habit is more important than inspiration.” As others have said, we write to find out what we don’t know.

How difficult is it to know what children will like or not like?  Who do you trust for feedback on your writing?

This question is more complicated than first it appears. Not all children like the same things. Then, we have to ask, what do you mean by children? A five-year-old is very different from a ten-year-old who is very, very different from a thirteen-year old. Children are the same in only one way: they are developing. This, to me, is one of the principal differences between writing for an adult audience and writing for children.

This, too, is one of the things that I find so difficult about writing for kids. I’m afraid that sometimes we don’t do the best job of honoring the sacred fact that children are still becoming. It’s a scientific fact. Research now tells us that the brain isn’t fully developed until our early twenties. This makes, or it should make, a difference in how we approach our work, or at least in understanding and respecting our audience..

Yes, there really was a Finn, and YES, he really did throw a fit!

But I sometimes worry that we too often fall prey to a kind of inferiority complex in which we feel we have to compete with adult publishing to be real writers. I wonder if this is why there are so many books for kids where a loved one dies, or is alcoholic or, well, you know what I mean. Why do we have this idea that tragedy is more serious, more valuable than comedy?  To me this seems very puritanical and old-fashioned. Also wrong.

Of course, I know that many young people do experience terrible things in their lives. But many children also experience happiness, — even those in the most wretched circumstances –and that happiness can bolster a young heart. I know this by the way from personal experience. There is so much to say on this topic.

Who are your favourite children’s authors or poets? What have you learned from them?

I love Roald Dahl. I love Robert Louis Stevenson. I love Louise Rennison. I love M.T. Anderson. (He’s a good friend, and though I don’t want to admit it to him, he is completely lovable!) I love Jack Prelutsky (because it’s clear he loves kids.) I love, love love Natalie Babbit. Too many to mention. And what I’ve learned from them is that is that I have a lot more to learn to be the writer I would like to be.

Is there a poem or book you’ve had published that you are particularly proud of?  Is there one secretly wish you could revise?

Good heavens! The answer to the first question is, “all of them.” The answer to the second question is, “all of them.”

What was the worst idea you ever had – for a poem, a book, a career, or anything – and what did you do with it?

Believe me, you don’t have enough time for me to talk about my bad ideas. I still get them. Every day.

We all do, David! By the way, considering all of your life experiences so far, do you think you’ll remain content with writing children’s lit, or do you see yourself branching out into other genres, or even doing something entirely different?

As my wonderful editor at Candlewick once said, “When I find adults as interesting as children, I’ll start working for them.” But I do have adult projects in mind. I’ve published one, The Tiger’s Back,  either a very short novella or a very long story, depending on how you look at it. I also have written some for the theater and plan to do more of that. But I’ll always write for kids.

What advice would you give to aspiring children’s poets and authors? And from your experience, what would you say is the biggest fallacy you’ve learned in trying to get published?

Currently, I teach in the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing at Lesley University in Cambridge. One thing that I find myself repeating to my students is, “Get out of the way.”  By which I mean, the writer must be secondary to the work. Understandably, less experienced writers are anxious, eager to prove to the world and to themselves they have whatn it takes. (If I’m honest, most of us feel this way. In fact, I have to fight that feeling every day.) This can create a bit of a tendency to show-off on the page, to make a wrong decision about a particular word, or sentence structure, or well, almost anything, really from punctuation to plot. 

But almost always, this either bores us (deadly!) or distracts us from what John Gardner calls “the fictional dream.” In other words, we stop thinking about what we’re reading and start thinking about the person who wrote it. (and usually not in the kindest of terms). We end up feeling disappointed or cheated, tricked somehow.  The harsh truth is that no one really cares about you, the writer, I mean. And rightly so. The reader only cares about what is on the page. And rightly so. It’s a hard lesson to learn. But also liberating once you’ve got the hang of it.

Of course, that isn’t to say that we can’t be dazzled by what a writer has accomplished –that’s happening to me right now with David Malouf — but that’s because 1) the writer has complete control of her craft and 2) whatever the writer has done it’s been in service to the story or the poem and not to herself.

About publishing, I don’t know what to say, really. One thing we almost never hear is that you need a little luck. So my advice in this area is 1) learn you craft, and 2) once you’ve learned it stay open so that when that luck comes knocking, you recognize it and let it in. (This isn’t helpful, I know. Sorry.)

Ha, don’t be sorry, that’s absolutely the best advice one could give! By the way, there’s a children’s illustrator from New Zealand named David Elliot.  As far as anyone can tell, you’re not him…right?

I don’t think I am, but one never knows.

Well, thanks again for spending some time with us here at PACYA, David…and all the best for future success!

I hope you enjoyed the interview…and please remember to visit later this month when David and I chat about the craft of writing, specifically verse novels, on April 30 when I host the Poetry Friday roundup! It should be a lot of fun, and enlightening! You’ll find today’s roundup at Tabatha Yeatts’ The Opposite of Indifference, where she is celebrating National Poetry Month!

Also be sure to check out all the books coming out this month from my 2021 Book Blast partners:

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I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

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!

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

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

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

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

Click any of the following covers to order!

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

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Thank you to everyone for your support!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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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!

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 FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Celebrating ANOTHER #BookBirthday with Lita Judge

In case you have somehow not heard, my new picture book that I co-authored with Charles Ghigna (aka, Father Goose®), ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME (Beaming Books) officially arrived this past Tuesday, and the official blog tour contonues to roll on at the following wonderful blogs:

ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIMEBLOG TOUR:

2/25:      Ellen Leventhal:  https://www.ellenleventhal.com/#blog
3/1:        Maria Marshall: https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/2:        Matt Forrest Esenwine: https://mattforrest.wordpress.com 
3/3:        Bookseed Studio: https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/
3/4:        Celebrate Picture Books: https://celebratepicturebooks.com/
3/5:        Maria Marshall #PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday): https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/5:        KidLit411 – Charles Ghigna interview: http://www.kidlit411.com/
3/5:       Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook: http://mrsknottsbooknook.blogspot.com/
3/9:      Erin Dealey https://www.erindealey.com/blog/
3/10:     Melissa Stoller: https://www.melissastoller.com/blog
3/16:     Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
5/5:       Andrew Hackett: https://www.andrewhacket.com/blog

That’s right, THREE bloggers are on tap today: Maria Marshall spotlights our book for Perfect Picture Book Friday, Elaine at KidLit411 features an interview with Charles, and Michelle Knott offers her review at Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook! (Most of these bloggers are giving away a free copy of the book, plus I have not one but TWO chances for you to win free copies that I’M giving away – so be sure to read about how to enter at the bottom of this post!)

But enough about me – let’s talk about my friend and fellow New Hampshirite, Lita Judge, whose brand-new book, The Wisdom of Trees (Roaring Brook Press) arrived in the world the exact same day as Once Upon Another Time!

Just about every industry trade, from Kirkus to Publisher’s Weekly to Booklist to School Library Journal, has been effusive in their praise for The Wisdom of Trees – and for good reason.

It’s a beautifully written, beautifully illustrated book that is both an important piece of nonfiction as well as a fine example of literary excellence. Every page is a perfect blend of image and text.

Lita’s soft, lovingly rendered illustrations will draw in young book lovers while her smart and thought-provoking poetry rewards older readers…and sidebars provide context and background information for each spread. Something for everyone – and every reader!

I asked Lita if she had a favorite spread, and her answer was the same as mine: “We Are the Ancient.” I’ll let her explain why she loves it so much:

It’s one of my favorites in the book because I have such fond memories of the research that went into its creation. We travelled to North Wales in 2019 with the specific goal of finding an ancient yew tree named the Llangernyw Yew. The tree was once thought to be between 4000 and 5000 years old but more recent estimates are more like 2500 years old.

When we found the tree, which was not easy, I sat within it, sketching. It sits in the old churchyard of Saint Digain’s Church, near 300 year old gravestones of long gone slate miners and their wives and children. Like other very old yews, the core of the tree has long decomposed, leaving only the exterior, which is literally so wide in circumference (over 36 feet) that you feel as if you’re sitting within the middle of many trees. It is one ancient tree that has witnessed thousands of years of our history.

I eventually included a different yew in the book, the Ankerwycke Yew, but the spread reminds me of the journey and the process.

Image ©2021 Roaring Brook Press, all rights reserved

Every page, every setting – whether it is quiet and tranquil or full of animal busy-ness – radiates with the tender attention to detail for which Lita is known. Couple the illustrations with her poetic text and it’s no wonder the trades are in love with this book.

And by the way, I confess that “We Are the Ancient” is actually one of two favorite spreads of mine; the other is a poem about the winter dormancy of trees, titled “Shhh…” Not only is it a serenly beautiful image of a forest in winter, but I get to hang the print she sent me in my office!

Thank you so much to Lita and Roaring Brook Press for sending me the book and art print!

This isn’t just a perfect book for poetry lovers or creative nonfiction types, either. This is the kind of book homeschoolers like my wife and I will relish because it can be used in a cross-disciplinary role: poetry, nonfiction, natural history, earth sceince…am I missing any??

I hope you’ll pick up a copy and see for yourself!

And if you’d like to learn more about the process Lita went through in creating this book, be sure to check out her YouTube channel, where she offers some behind-the-scenes footage and commentary about how The Wisdom of Trees came to be.

Looking for more poetry? Our friend from Down Under, Kat Apel, is hosting today’s Poetry Friday Muster (that’s “round-up,” for you non-farming types) with a spotlight on her fun new picture book, The Bird in the Herd, along with a poem inspired by the patience and perseverance it took to bring the book to life!

~ ~ GIVEAWAY!! ~ ~

Would you like a personally-signed copy of ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME? How about TWO?? I have two copies I’ll give away, with two ways to enter: check out my #BookBirthday post and leave a comment, and/or share that same post on Twitter and use the hashtags #giveaway and #2021BookBlast! Two drawings, two ways to win! I’ll announce a blog winner on Friday, March 19 and the Twitter winner at the end of the month. Good luck!

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I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

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 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 personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly EVERY book or anthology 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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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!

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: #PoetryOutLoud this week, a #BookBirthday next week!

This week has been, to say the least, insane – one of the busiest weeks I can remember, honestly. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we’re homeschooling our kids this year (thank you, Covid), so time is at a premium to begin with…but with a book coming out next Tue., March 2, all my spare time has been spent prepping and organizing for the big day!

First of all, there’s the ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME Blog Tour, featuring TEN awesome bloggers spotlighting the book, sharing their reviews, and interviewing my co-author, Charles Ghigna and me. And what’s REALLY cool? Most are offering a free copy of the book to give away – so be sure to check out as many of them as you can and increase your odds!

ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIMEBLOG TOUR:

2/25:      Ellen Leventhal:  https://www.ellenleventhal.com/#blog
2/26:      Michelle Knott: http://mrsknottsbooknook.blogspot.com/
3/1:        Maria Marshall: https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/2:        Matt Forrest Esenwine: https://mattforrest.wordpress.com 
3/3:        Jan Godown Annino at Bookseed Studio: https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/
3/4:        Celebrate Picture Books: https://celebratepicturebooks.com/ (will begin giveaway on 3/5)
3/5:        Maria Marshall #PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday): https://www.mariacmarshall.com/blog
3/5:        KidLit411 – Charles Ghigna interview http://www.kidlit411.com/
3/10:      Melissa Stoller: https://www.melissastoller.com/blog
3/16:      Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/
5/5:        Andrew Hackett https://www.andrewhacket.com/blog

Not only are Charles, illustrator Andres Landazabal, and I indebted to these fine folks for their support and kind words, we are also greatly appreciative of the American Library Association’s Booklist Online for their tremendously positive review, calling our book “a neccessary addition to picture book collections”– as well as all our fellow authors and illustrators who’ve shared their opinions of our book on both our Amazon page and the back cover:

I’m grateful to teachers, too! Specifically, the twelve schools across the country who’ve invited me to read the book to their students the day it comes out – which also happens to be the NEA’s Read Across America Day. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a picture book birthday than by reading to kids all day long!

The folks at New Hampshire radio station 105.5 JYY have also been extremely supportive, by inviting me to chat with my former radio partner, Nazzy, for a half-hour live podcast two days ago. We talked about all things involving writing, publishing, and the necessity of being willing to take a leap of faith:

Are you getting the feeling I’ve been just a little bit out straight?

Well, that’s just part of the story…because I am also once again one of the judges for our state’s Poetry Out Loud semi-finals! Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest that encourages the memorization and performance of poetry by our country’s high schools students.

I’ve been involved for nearly 5 years now, and it’s always amazing to watch these young people bringing life to the words of classic and contemporary poetry. This year, due to Covid, I’ll be judging performances virtually, as each student has recorded their performance and submitted it for review; it’s not exactly the live atmosphere we’ve been used to, but at least we’re able to do it!

For their performances, students are allowed to choose the poems they recite from a list of poems provided by the national Poetry Out Loud organization, so for today’s Poetry Friday post, I thought I’d share one of my favorites that one of our state’s students will be performing this year:

For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, head on over to Karen Edmisten’s blog, where she and Billy Collins contemplate their existence over a bowl of Cheerios!

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

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

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

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 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 personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly EVERY book or anthology 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!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

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

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!

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: Poetry & picture books – an interview with Linda Brennan

First of all, let me say thank you to everyone who has sent me warm wishes and thoughts regarding the passing of my mom two weeks ago. Last Friday, I posted the poem I wrote for her and dad, and have had numerous folks asking if they could share it – and by all means, please feel free to do so! It’s a wonderful way to keep her spirit alive, connecting others with what I have to imagine is a universal theme.

And although it has been a sad, melancholy time, it turned quite jubilant two days ago when I saw this had been officially announced in Publisher’s Weekly:

You read that correctly – it’s scheduled for THIS FALL, which is lightning-fast in this business. Illustrations are already underway, and I can’t wait to tell you more as we get closer to launch date!

So between the highs and lows that 2021 has kicked off with, today I wanted to share a post from someone else’s blog! I recently enjoyed the privelege of being interviewed by Rhode Island author Linda Crotta Brennan, for her blog, Lupine Seeds, and am so happy to be able to share that interview with you here!

It was great fun sharing my thoughts on writing poetry, publishing poetry, and understanding poetry – and how I’ve managed to transfer my love and knowledge of the genre to picture books. She also asked me about my collaborations, like Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (POW! Kids Books, 2018), co-authored with Deborah Bruss, and my upcoming book with Charles Ghigna, Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, March, 2021), which were a lot of fun to write. I do hope you’ll check it out!

In the interview, I offer a few suggestions for poetry books you might consider reading, if you want to learn more about writing or reading poetry, particularly children’s poetry. So I thought I’d share one of the poems Laura Purdie Salas published a few years ago in her book, Catch Your Breath: Writing Poignant Poetry (Capstone, 2015), the perfect book for teens who are just starting to get their feet wet writing poetry:

Abandonment (haiku)

sparrow sweetly sings
melancholy melody;
her mate, on the ground.

© 2015 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Laura had wanted a poem that showcased alliteration, assonance, and consonance – so I gave her as short a poem as I could, ha! Today, Margaret Simon is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup at her blog, Reflections on the Teche, with some nestling poems (found poems created from within another poem) she crafted from Richard Blanco’s One Today.

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

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!

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

Coming January 26, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

Children will love to follow along on a Goldilocks-like journey as Elliot searches for the perfect place to rest in this new board book! 

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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!

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: 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!

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!