Poetry Friday: “Flashlight Night,” reading lists, and mentor text!

Well, at this point, I’m guessing all the kids are out of school.

I say “guess” because I know some who – because of the long, rough winter – didn’t get out until the last week of June! But the first day of summer is well behind us now and we’ve had temps in the 90s all this week, which means the season is in full effect…and I couldn’t be happier to discover that a little book you might have heard about is showing up on summer reading lists across the country:

Kansas NEA Reading Circle Recommended Books

We Are Teachers

Orange County (CA) Pubic Libraries

Contra Costa County Library (CA)

Cannon School (NH)

Newton Free Library (MA)

These are just a few, of course, but I have to tell you how honored and thrilled I am to see Flashlight Night alongside titles from such talented and varied authors & illustrators as Dan Santat, Dr. Seuss, Brian Selznick, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Margarita Engle, Mo Willems, and my neighbor, David Elliott.

Both Flashlight Night and Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018) are available everywhere books are sold…and if you’d like to order a personalized signed copy, just click the links and you’ll be taken to our local bookstore, which will let me know! I’ll run down and sign it, then they’ll ship it off to you – how cool is that?

And although I discovered this 3 months late, I have to thank Jen Betton at ReFoReMo for using the book as a mentor text back in March, to show how illustrators (in Flashlight‘s case, Fred Koehler) develop pacing and plot using sparse, lyrical text. I was humbled that Jen chose our book; doubly so, because the other book she used was Joyce Sidman’s poetic Before Morning (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2016), illustrated by fellow New Hampshire resident, Beth Krommes.

Speaking of poetry, a little something for my teacher friends…
.

Standing at the Door, Mid-Summer

Cries of laughter, shouts of glee,
letters sung and questions raised.
19 names hung from a tree.
Work displayed; efforts, praised.

Heartbeats echoed loud and strong –
now life has left this barren womb.
In its place, a silent song
and bitter scent of an empty room.

– © 2018 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

.

For more poetry, please visit Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!
.

COMING SEPT. 25, 2018!

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

Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, you can!

You can now purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur, and ANY of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just log onto my website and 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. They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!” 

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

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “More Than We Are”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllThis post was originally published 5 years ago, on June 14, 2013. Considering all the graduations taking place this past week, I thought it might be a good idea to re-post it. (You also may also be inclined to check out my message to graduates, which was posted that same week)

=========================================================Where does the time go? One minute your kids are starting kindergarten and the next thing you know, they’re heading off to prom and graduation and the rest of their life.

Whew, that was quick.

My youngest daughter, Katherine, is graduating high school this weekend, so there was no question for me as to what poem I should share today.  Katherine is a very talented young woman, whose photography has graced more than a few blog posts here. She was selected as a New Hampshire Scholar for her above-average course load while in high school, and I’m very proud of her.

I wrote this a little over a year ago – and although it’s not really ‘about’ her, the message was created with her, her two older sisters, and all young people in mind.

(Good grief, I just used the phrase “young people.” That makes me think I might not be one of them anymore.)

“More Than We Are (for Katherine)”

An astronaut’s an astronaut,
but might be someone’s dad
who takes his daughter fishing
when she feels a little sad.
A banker is a banker
but could be a mom, as well,
who shows her son the alphabet
and helps him learn to spell.

A teacher is a teacher
but might be a singer, too.
The janitor at school may wish
he ran the local zoo.
Half of KatieHis son might be a doctor
who is saving someone’s life;
the lady at the store today
might be the doctor’s wife.

Each homeless person on the street,
each writer of a song,
each boy or girl you chance to meet
has somewhere they belong.
There’s always more than what we see,
and as we learn and grow,
we’re all more than we seem to be –

and you’re more than you know.
.

– © 2012, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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For today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, please visit illustrator & wordsmith Michelle Kogan’s blog – where you’ll also find her review of Margaret Simon’s brand-new poetry collection, Bayou Song (University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, 2018)!

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

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR”
& “FLASHLIGHT NIGHT”
are available everywhere!

It’s another signing – this time, in New Hampshire’s beautiful Lakes Region! I won’t be able to be there, unfortunately, but Dinosaur‘s co-author, Deb Bruss will be – so I hope you’ll stop by if you’re in the area.

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

Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

You can now purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur, and ANY of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH will let me know, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!” 

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

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Living My Past,” a golden shovel

I love National Poetry Month. I love publishing new picture books. I love readings and signings and blog contests to promote those books. And I love teaching poetry and writing to students.

But trying to do all of these in one month? WHEW!

 

 

As I was looking over some of my documents, considering what to share for Poetry Friday today, I came across a poem I wrote back in March – that I never got around to posting here! So I’m going to take care of that right now.

I wrote it as a response to one of Michelle H. Barnes’ monthly challenges on her blog; she had interviewed the incredible Nikki Grimes, who had suggested that readers write a golden shovel poem.  A golden shovel takes a line from someone else’s poem and then uses each word in that line as the last word of each line of the new poem.

In this case, I used the first line of Devon Hope’s poem, “Black Box:” “in case I forgot to tell you”
.

Living My Past

Uncertainty sneaks in.
It’s always the case
when dealing with what I
want to lose, or wish I forgot.
Things left behind, they find a way to come back, to
remind me you never can tell
what’s going to hold onto you.

– © 2018 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved

.
It’s only a second draft, so I could probably spend some more time polishing it, but this was an exercise in writing – not a quest for perfection. Remember what I always say: #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading! Sometimes polish and shine is necessary, but the act of writing itself needs to be allowed its freedom, which is why I occasionally share poems here that are not-quite-finished.

Every great masterpiece has to start somewhere – and sometimes, it can be pretty hideous when it first starts breathing. It can take a few days, a few months, a few years before it’s ready to debut in public. Just keep at it, and write – no one ever said everything needs to be a masterpiece, and no one ever said you had to share your writing with anyone. Write for yourself, first and foremost…and then see where it takes you.

Looking for today’s Poetry Friday roundup? You’ll find it at Rebecca Herzog’s little home on the web, Sloth Reads – where she is not only hosting today’s shindig, she’s also offering a book giveaway!

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

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR” is now available everywhere!

Only a couple more signings lined up at this point – so if you are in the Southern NH-Eastern MA area, I hope you’ll stop by and say hi!

  • TOMORROW, Sat., May 19, 11:30am-3pm: Barnes & Noble, Salem, NH, National Storytime at 11am, followed by Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., June 2, 1-3pm: Books-A-Million, Concord, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing

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

Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!” 

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

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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

National Poetry Month: Some international student poetry!

I am back from our local SCBWI chapter’s annual spring conference (my wrap-up will be forthcoming next week), and although I’m currently spending time with two exes – ex-hilarated and ex-hausted – I could not let National Poetry Month go by without including some more student poetry…this time, from across the Pond!

Early this year, I chatted via Skype with a group of fifth-grade students at a middle school in Redditch, England about poetry and writing in general. Before we wrapped up, I suggested to them that they think about something they really love or enjoy and write something about that. After all, the first step in writing a poem is understanding your subject, so this was an easy way to get them into it. They could write list poems, non-rhyming, anything – I just wanted them to get their thoughts on paper.

I had no idea what they were about to do!

Their teacher, Oliver Cooke (aka, Olly) contacted me a couple of months later and told me that – as a way to help encourage some of the students who struggle with literacy – they were asked to write poems about things they love, and that Olly would send me some of them. They jumped into it! I’ll let Olly explain, in his words:

“They were very, very excited at the prospect of a real poet reading their work and even the small possibility that you would post it on your blog. This has inspired them to write poetry and they have engaged really well!”

Well, if posting their work on my blog is going to inspire them to write and become more engaged, I suppose I’d better post their work, shouldn’t I?? (click on any of them to enlarge)

 

Hmmm…I think what we can deduce here is that most students love a) summer; b) springtime; and c) football (soccer). Odd, no mention of algebra. I think my favorite is the “Gymtime” poem on the bottom left corner; the writer has a nice sense of rhythm and wordplay, and the “time line” / “limp time” rhyme – while not a perfect rhyme – makes the poem sing! And most importantly, it provides a nice way to end the poem.

If you’re a teacher or educator, you should know I never try to get students who are just learning poetry to rhyme. They’ve heard nursery rhymes, read rhyming picture books, listened to songs…they’re already familiar with it! I prefer helping them to understand their subject: thinking about it, studying it, considering connections one can make to it. I’d rather have a thoughtful poem borne of reflection, introspection, or  juxtaposition than a poem that simply rhymes. Meter, rhyme, form – all that can come later.

Also remember my mantra: #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading! Don’t worry about what others might say – just write! Yes, in school you have to be proper with your grammar and syntax and conjugation and sentence structure and all that hullabaloo…but writing can be a great deal of fun when you don’t worry about all those rules and just write for yourself. A time and place for everything, as they say.

A huge THANK YOU to Olly, his colleague, teacher Emma Horsley, and their students for sending these to me! Keep up the great work, and I hope to chat with you all again.

Oh, and speaking of “times” and “places”…

Don’t Ask a Dinosaur officially debuted this past Tue. with a GIVEAWAY you can still enter!

Meanwhile, The Dinosaur Tour blog tour rolls on! Several kidlit bloggers are sharing DAAD reviews, interviews, and contests this month and next. Here’s a list of all the bloggers participating:

April 6:       Michelle H. Barnes (Interview w/month-long writing prompt)
April 8:       Kate Narita (Book trailer & activity sheet spotlight)
April 11:     Deborah Kalb (Interview w/Matt & Deb)
April 13:     Yours Truly! (Interview w/illustrator Louie Chin)
April 16:     KidLit Exchange (Blog post re: process of illustration)
April 17:     Momma’s Bacon (DAAD review)
April 17:     Yours Truly!
April 18:     Bonnie Ferrante (DAAD review)
April 19:     KidLit Exchange (DAAD review)

April 19:     Brenda Davis Harsham (DAAD micro review)
TOMORROW:     Bonnie Ferrante (Interview w/Matt & Deb)
May 2:        Unleashing Readers (DAAD review)
May 30:      Bookseedstudio (DAAD review/interview) 

I hope you’ll stop by these blogs and learn something new about our book!

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

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR”
is now available everywhere!

Where will we be? When will we be there? Funny you should ask:

  • Thur., April 26, 10:30am:  Pillsbury Free Library, Warner, NH, Dinosaur Storytime with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People!
  • Sat., April 28, 10:30am: Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., April 28, 2pm: Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing (with Sara Levine, Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones reading/signing)
  • Sun., April 29, 2pm:  MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing and discussion
  • Sat., May 5, 10am: Barnes & Noble, Burlington, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., May 5, 1pm:  Barnes & Noble, Nashua, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur and Flashlight Night reading/signing
  • Sat., May 12, 11am:  Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Wed., May 15, 12pm: Concord Hospital Gift Shop, Concord, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People signing
  • Sat., May 19, 11:30am-3pm: Barnes & Noble, Salem, NH, National Storytime at 11am, followed by Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., June 2, 1-3pm: Books-A-Million, Concord, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing

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

The 2018 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem!

A little seed is on an adventure…the 2018 Progressive Poem is underway! Here’s the list of all the writers/bloggers participating, so you can follow along:

April 1 Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass
2 Jane at Raincity Librarian
3 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Jan at bookseedstudio
6 Irene at Live Your Poem
7 Linda at TeacherDance
8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
9 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
10 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
13 Linda at A Word Edgewise
14 Heidi at my juicy little universe
15 Donna at Mainely Write
16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle
17 Ruth at There is no such thing as a Godforsaken town
18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
20 Linda at Write Time
21 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
22 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
25 Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
28 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
29 April at Teaching Authors
30 Doraine at Dori Reads

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

Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!” 

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

Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

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 twice a week – on 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

National Poetry Month 2018: 2nd-Graders discover poetry!

National Poetry Month is underway! To celebrate, I have quite a bit planned: an interview with Amy Losak about her late mother’s new children’s book H is for Haiku (Penny Candy Books, April 10, 2018); an interview with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids, April 17, 2018) illustrator Louie Chin; Irene Latham’s 2018 Progressive Poem; and details about the “Dinosaur Tour” blog tour!

Today, I wanted to share a few poems written by some of the students at a local elementary school I visited a few weeks ago. After I read some of my published poems and spoke a little bit about what poetry is and why I enjoy writing it, I had them do some brainstorming with three images (which you may recognize from past “Poetry…Cubed!” contests!).

We talked about “re-naming” the objects, and what else the images might be or might represent, and then I departed – to let them work on their poems on their own. Here are the three images we used:
.

The kids really got into the brainstorming session – identifying images like the eye as “earth,” “marble,” and “curtains” (because of the lashes – how cool is that??) and the headlight as “glass,” “sparkle,” and “projector!” Here’s a sample of what these kids came up with…The Earth you know it
by your planet, the Sun
gives light. Our world
is a projector of life.

– Liam

 


Clouds cover the sky like a blanket.
The sky becomes gloomy and the wind blows
almost like it’s a bunch
of leaves flowing.

– Linnea

Sunset sunset, in the night,
sometimes you shine so, so bright.
A starry sky will come so soon,
I can’t wait for me tomorrow
to come up and bloom.

– Tucker

I am asleep, the sunset
down quiet and still in my tomb.
I will wake up, I know, I know.
So Much Z’s, we, we, we.
So much to dream at bedtime
for us. Good night.

– Walker

.
Don’t you love the styles and voices these kids are displaying? We start out with a little prose poetry from Liam, move on to some pastoral free verse from Linnea, Tucker goes for the rhyming verse, and Walker wraps it up with some deep introspection, likening his bed to a tomb! (Come on, that’s brilliant!)

I love seeing young kids thinking like this, stretching their creative muscles, and having fun doing it! My thanks to the students’ teacher, Ms. Smith, and the second grade team for hosting me, and I look forward to visiting them again.

By the way, if you are interested in having me visit your school to chat with the students about writing, poetry, and getting them to use their brains (all while keeping my presentations  aligned with Common Core Anchor Standards for Writing 3, 4, or 5!), please let me know! Email me at matt (at) mattforrest (dot) com and we can discuss rates and dates and times, oh my.

As for the Progressive Poem I mentioned earlier, a seed has awoken! To follow along with the story, here’s a list of all the folks who are participating – including Yours Truly:

April 1 Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass
2 Jane at Raincity Librarian
3 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Jan at bookseedstudio
6 Irene at Live Your Poem
7 Linda at TeacherDance
8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
9 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
10 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
13 Linda at A Word Edgewise
14 Heidi at my juicy little universe
15 Donna at Mainely Write
16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle
17 Ruth at There is no such thing as a Godforsaken town
18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
20 Linda at Write Time
21 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
22 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
25 Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
28 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
29 April at Teaching Authors
30 Doraine at Dori Reads

Be sure to join me THIS FRIDAY as I share the first of this month’s Poetry…Cubed! entries, and I’ll also be sharing the link to the FIRST STOP on our DINOSAUR TOUR blog tour! (It’s going to be fun – and there’s a Challenge that goes along with it!)

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

SCHOOL PEOPLE are here…and the DINOSAURS are on their way!

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR hits bookshelves April 17!

New dates continue to be added to the Dinosaur Tour! Here’s the most up-to-date schedule:

  • Sat., April 14, 11am:  Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Sat., April 14, 2pm:  Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Tue., April 17, 7pm:  Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur Dual National Launch Party!! (with Holly Thompson, One Wave at a Time reading/signing/discussion)
  • Thur., April 26, 10:30am:  Pillsbury Free Library, Warner, NH, Dinosaur Storytime with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People!
  • Sat., April 28, 10:30am: Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., April 28, 2pm: Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing (with Sara Levine, Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones reading/signing)
  • Sun., April 29, 2pm:  MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing and discussion
  • Sat., May 5, 10am: Barnes & Noble, Burlington, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., May 5, 1pm:  Barnes & Noble, Nashua, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., May 12, 11am:  Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Wed., May 16, 12pm: Concord Hospital Gift Shop, Concord, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People signing
  • Sat., May 19, 11:30am-3pm: Barnes & Noble, Salem, NH, National Storytime at 11am, followed by Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., June 2, 1-3pm: Books-A-Million, Concord, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing

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

Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!” 

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

Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

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 twice a week – on 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Catch”

As I mentioned a few days ago, Ed DeCaria’s Madness! Poetry competition is underway – and the number of “authletes” that began the competition (including Yours Truly) has already been whittled down.

Madness! Poetry is a bracketed-style competition; each authlete is given a particular word and has 36 hours to write a children’s poem using that word. Fellow writers, students, teachers, everyone is encouraged to vote for their favorite poems as the number of authletes drops from 64 to 32 to 16 to 8 to 4 to 2…and finally the winner s crowned.

Once again, I did not make it out of the first round, so I’ll be watching and voting from the sidelines…but I encourage you to follow it throughout the next couple of weeks! Today, I’m sharing the poem I wrote for the competition because – even though I only had 36 hours to write it – I like the way it came out and the message it conveys. Is it perfect? No…but it says what I wanted it to say.

The word my competitor, Savannah Rogers, and I had been given was “pelt”:
.

Catch

Each morning at school
it’s always the same:
they pitch me an insult,
toss me a name.

They hurl innuendo
with me in their sights.
They pelt me with slurs,
sling a few slights.

I’m taunted with words
they carelessly throw.
They want me to cry;
I don’t let it show.

They like to play games,
but starting today
they won’t have much fun.
.
I’m not going to play.

– © 2018 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Interesting how poems form themselves. When I saw the word was “pelt,” my first thought was the fur of a raccoon or wolf. I immediately eschewed that definition, as I felt it would be too difficult to write a kid-friendly poem about dead, skinless animals. Just a hunch, of course.

So I then thought about being pelted with snow or sleet or something like that, but I figured that would be the obvious way to go – and I’m all about finding the unexpected angles. It didn’t take me long to recall my younger days (long before anti-bullying messages and hashtag campaigns) when I struggled with physical and mental abuse from other students on a near-daily basis.

I didn’t want the poem to be didactic, but I did want to say something meaningful. As I mentioned to some of the folks who were voting on my match-up with Savannah Rogers, it’s a lot easier to say “don’t play their game” than it is to actually not play it. Still, I felt it was an important message. I had no one with whom to talk when I was younger (my folks just figured kids were being kids and didn’t do much to help me), so having adults in a kid’s life who can help guide him/her can make a world of difference.

Congratulations to Savannah or winning the first round – she’s now gearing up for Round 2! And speaking of poetry, my friend Michelle H. Barnes is hosting Poetry Friday today at her blog, Today’s Little Ditty, so please stop by for the complete roundup AND a month-long poetry prompt from Nikki Grimes.

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SCHOOL PEOPLE are here…and the DINOSAURS are on their way!

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR hits bookshelves April 17!

New dates continue to be added to the Dinosaur Tour! Don’t Ask a Dinosaur co-author Deborah Bruss and I have quite a busy schedule planned:

  • Sat., April 14, 11am:  Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Sat., April 14, 2pm:  Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Tue., April 17, 7pm:  Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur Dual National Launch Party!! (with Holly Thompson, One Wave at a Time reading/signing/discussion)
  • Thur., April 26, 10:30am:  Pillsbury Free Library, Warner, NH, Dinosaur Storytime with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People!
  • Sat., April 28, 10:30am: Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., April 28, 2pm: Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing (with Sara Levine, Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones reading/signing)
  • Sun., April 29, 2pm:  MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing and discussion
  • Sat., May 5, 10am: Barnes & Noble, Burlington, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., May 5, 1pm:  Barnes & Noble, Nashua, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Sat., May 12, 11am:  Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • Wed., May 16, 12pm: Concord Hospital Gift Shop, Concord, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People signing
  • Sat., May 19, 11:30am-3pm: Barnes & Noble, Salem, NH, National Storytime at 11am, followed by Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
  • To be scheduled: Books-A-Million, Concord, NH
  • MORE DATES to be added!

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

Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!” 

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

Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

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 twice a week – on 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

Poetry Friday: On Langston Hughes, School People, and Riotous Punctuation: an Interview (& Giveaway!) with Lee Bennett Hopkins

School People (Wordsong), Lee Bennett Hopkins’ new children’s poetry anthology, is officially in stores!

Edited by  Flashlight Night editor Rebecca Davis, this book includes 15 poems about the grown-ups that children meet at school – including my poem, “Bus Driver.” Today, Lee Bennett Hopkins joins me for a brief interview about the book and how he goes about creating these exceptional anthologies.

First of all, Lee, I want to thank you for asking me to contribute a poem to another one of your books! I know I speak for all of the contributors when I say that is always an honor when asked to write something for a Lee Bennett Hopkins anthology. What was your first anthology, and how did it come about?

After teaching for six years in an elementary school in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, and having completed my Master’s Degree at Bank Street College of Education (when Bank Street College was on Bank Street in Greenwich Village),  I was offered a job working with Bank Street to develop new programs in Harlem where I wrote numerous articles, many dealing with African American studies. My work was with junior high school students and teachers to bring African American literature and poetry to weave into curricula.

Born in Scranton, PA, Hopkins graduated Kean University, Bank Street College of Education, and holds a Professional Diploma in Educational Supervision and Administration from Hunter College. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Kean University, the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for “outstanding contributions to the field of children’s literature,” and a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for his 120+ children’s poetry anthologies. He also received the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Poetry for Children award and the Florida Libraries’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

On May 22, 1967, Langston Hughes died in Harlem; a few blocks away from where I was working. I wanted to share more of his work. The only book he had done for children was The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (Knopf) published in 1932. 1932! Although the words were as universal as ever, the artwork was stereotypically appalling. I could not share an Aunt Jemima-looking woman in her bandana nor a tap dancing-like dude with cap and cane with students or colleagues.

I brazenly called the Knopf office and asked to speak to their current editor. Imagine this! I was young, naïve – and truly didn’t know better! After asking why a new book of Hughes poems had not been published and angry over the artwork, the editor, Virginia Fowler, stopped me mid-ranting and asked me to meet her for lunch. She remained shocked I had the nerve to call her but told me how she loved my enthusiasm.

Voila, I was offered a contract to bring a new edition of Hughes work to life. The result Don’t You Turn Back, with exquisite woodcuts by Ann Grifalconi. The book was highly touted, won numerous awards including an ALA Notable Book. The Introduction was written by Arna Bontemps, noted author, historian, and friend of Hughes. I was truly on my way; the first of many books I published with Knopf!

These days, there are poetry collections about everything from food to bugs to historical events. How difficult is it to come up with thematic concepts that will not only be commercially successful, but of a high literary value, as well?

It isn’t so much a theme but how one executes it. There are many books of poems about school. In School People, for example, I begin with the building itself; it is “School’s Story.” I asked Rebecca Kai Dotlich to begin the book with the building… what it awaits, what it holds, what it is. “I am waiting—come on in!” Come on in to “A building full of soul and heart.”

The cast of personnel is then presented beginning with your poem “Bus Driver” showing the empathy of a smiling face that brings a child to school and home again. Various school workers are presented, each detailing their various roles. The book ends with “School’s Story Reprise” by Dotlich who brings the collection to a whole where the building tells of ‘all these parts; / hours of wonders, surprises, starts.”

The “high literary value” comes via the pens of today’s poets, established voices and well as newer ones. It is the culmination of hours, days, months, sometimes even years of back-and-forth-ing, editing, rewrites galore, the supreme delight of working with disciplined poets. How lucky I am to have them in my life.

Lee’s poem from “School People,” ©2018 Wordsong, all rights reserved, reprinted with permission (Click to enlarge)

Can you provide us with some insight as to how an anthology comes together? That is, once a subject is determined and the publishing contract is signed, what happens next?

I make a list of poets I would like to invite. Knowing their work I have the gut feeling of what they will create. Many have appeared in past collections. I know, for example, that Joan Bransfield Graham writes with emotion which gives me goose bumps. I sigh after she is finished with a poem. It is remarkable the empathy she can bring to a few lines. I also want to take chances with ‘newer’ poets to help them advance their careers.

Once all the poems are in they are sent to an editor. In this case, Rebecca M. Davis at Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press. Rebecca and I have worked on countless collections. Not only is she my dearest friend, she is among the best editors in the industry. We sort of know where to go. If I go astray she’ll lead me right back on track. She is my Poetry Mistress! (Smile, Rebecca!) I can’t wait to begin a collection under her keen guidance.

Last year, you were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame along with such highly esteemed folks as guitarist Don Felder of the Eagles and country signers Billy Dean and Jim Stafford. I know you were very surprised when it was first announced…but how did it feel to actually be there, accepting the award?

The Award Ceremony was held in Gainsville, Florida. It was a mind-boggling gala to be in a room filled with such creative people. A host of people were instrumental to my induction including the tireless, determined work of Jude Mandel and Stephanie Salkin. My greatest shock and delight was to appear on a roster of people such as Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston and my all-time idol, Tennessee Williams. I shall forever be on A Streetcar Named Desire due to this honor!

The Contents page reads like a Who’s Who of children’s poets…and somehow, I ended up in there, too! ©2018 Wordsong, all rights reserved, reprinted with permission (Click to enlarge)

Finally, since this new book, School People, is all about the grown-ups that children meet when they go to school…who was your favorite “school person” when you were in elementary school?

There were many but one stands out – my eighth-grade teacher, Mrs. Ethel Kite MacLachlan, who saw something in the mixed-up child I was and turned my life around with her compassion and understanding. Like Joan Bransfield Graham’s poem, “Teacher”, she was the one to ‘stretch my world much wider” made me feel “I, too, can fly.”

Oh, and I would be remiss if I neglected to ask what is next on your publishing schedule! I know you have a couple of other anthologies coming out next year; any more books this year?

I am looking forward to the release next month of World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Abrams). World Make Way is visually stunning, highlighting masterpieces by artists as Mary Cassatt and Henri Rousseau to the contemporary Kerry James Marshall. The poetry is ekphrastic verse featuring all new works by such award-winning poets as Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Carole Boston Weatherford.

In the fall, a romp of a collection, A Bunch of Punctuation (Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press) bringing punctuation marks to riotous adventures. O! what some of my wondrous poet friends have come up with including odes to a dash, a hyphen and parentheses!

French artist, Serge Bloch’s whimsical artwork is simply “!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Well, thank you again, Lee, for taking the time to chat – and thank you also for inviting me to be part of School People and some of your other upcoming books. Congratulations on this newest accomplishment!

Thank you, Matt, for all you do to promote poetry.

Speaking of poetry, folks…if you head on over to Ms. Mac’s place, Check It Out, you’ll find today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup! If you’d like to order a copy of “School People” personally signed by Yours Truly, just CLICK HERE!

AND IF YOU’D LIKE TO WIN A FREE COPY OF “SCHOOL PEOPLE,” SIMPLY LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW OR SHARE THIS POST VIA FACEBOOK, TWITTER, OR PINTEREST – AND BE SURE TO TAG ME, SO I’LL SEE IT. (EACH OF THESE ACTIONS EARNS AN ENTRY, SO YOU CAN POTENTIALLY HAVE AS MANY AS FOUR ENTRIES!)

I’LL PICK ONE NAME AT RANDOM NEXT THURSDAY NIGHT AT 8PM EST AND ANNOUNCE THE WINNER IN NEXT FRIDAY’S  BLOG! 

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SCHOOL PEOPLE are here…and the DINOSAURS are on their way!

“Don’t Ask a Dinosaur” hits bookshelves April 17!

New dates continue to be added to the Dinosaur Tour! Don’t Ask a Dinosaur co-author Deborah Bruss and I have quite a busy schedule planned, and more dates continue to be added:

  • Sat., April 14, 11am:  Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Sat., April 14, 2pm:  Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Tue., April 17, 7pm:  Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur National Launch Party!! 
  • Thur., April 26, 10:30am:  Pillsbury Free Library, Warner, NH, Dinosaur Storytime with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!
  • Sat., April 28, 10:30am: Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • Sat., April 28, 2pm: Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing (with Sara Levine, Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones reading/signing)
  • Sun., April 29, 2pm:  MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing and discussion
  • Sat., May 5, 10am: Barnes & Noble, Burlington, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • Sat., May 5, 1pm:  Barnes & Noble, Nashua, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • Sat., May 12, 11am:  Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing

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

Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!” 

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

Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

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 twice a week – on 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

“School People” Book Birthday!

(Click the cover to order a personally-signed copy from Yours Truly!)

Lee Bennett Hopkins’ new children’s poetry anthology, School People (Wordsong), is now officially in stores everywhere!

Edited by my  Flashlight Night editor Rebecca Davis, this book includes 15 poems about all the grown-ups that children meet at school, like the Teacher, the Lunch Lady, the Librarian, the Custodian  – and of course, the person who transports the kids from home to school and back again, the Bus Driver!

– © 2018 Wordsong, all rights reserved, reprinted with permission (Click to enlarge)

 

School People also includes poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Charles Ghigna, J. Patrick Lewis, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Renee LaTulippe, Irene Latham, Robyn Hood Black, and many others including Lee himself.

It’s a beautiful book, so I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy. And please be sure to check out this Friday’s blog, when I interview Lee about the book, his amazing, record-setting history of anthologies, and his induction into the Florida Artists’ Hall of Fame.

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SCHOOL PEOPLE are here…and the DINOSAURS are on their way!

“Don’t Ask a Dinosaur” hits bookshelves April 17!

New dates continue to be added to the Dinosaur Tour! Don’t Ask a Dinosaur co-author Deborah Bruss and I have quite a busy schedule planned, and more dates continue to be added:

  • Sat., April 14, 11am:  Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Sat., April 14, 2pm:  Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH, (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND Local Book Launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!)
  • Tue., April 17, 7pm:  Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur National Launch Party!! 
  • Thur., April 26, 10:30am:  Pillsbury Free Library, Warner, NH, Dinosaur Storytime with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!
  • Sat., April 28, 10:30am: Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • Sat., April 28, 2pm: Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing (with Sara Levine, Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones reading/signing)
  • Sun., April 29, 2pm:  MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing and discussion
  • Sat., May 5, 10am: Barnes & Noble, Burlington, MADon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • Sat., May 5, 1pm:  Barnes & Noble, Nashua, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing
  • Sat., May 12, 11am:  Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NHDon’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing

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

Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!” 

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

Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

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 twice a week – on 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Don’t Ask a Dinosaur” gets a publication date, and New Hampshire KidLit gets a boost!

It’s official! My next picture book, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books), co-authored with Deb Bruss (Book! Book! Book!, Big Box for Ben), will arrive in stores on April 17! Woo-HOO!

The newly-revised cover! Click to order! Do it! Now!

Illustrator Louie Chin has been working for months on these illustrations, tweaking them here and there til they were juuuust right – and Deb & I couldn’t be more happy with them. Things are getting busy on the calendar, too! We have book launches and readings already lined up, with lots more to come…

  • Sun., Jan. 14, 4pm:  Hopkinton (NH) Town Library, Flashlight Night reading/signing and discussion (Matt)
  • Sat., April 14, 11am:  Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND local book launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!) (Matt & Deb)
  • Sat., April 14, 2pm:  Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH (Children’s Author Day with illustrator Ryan O’Rourke AND local book launch for Don’t Ask a Dinosaur!) (Matt & Deb)
  • Tue., April 17, 7pm:  Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur National Launch Party!! (Matt & Deb)
  • Thur., April 26, 10:30am:  Pillsbury Free Library, Warner, NH Dinosaur Storytime with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur(Matt & Deb)
  • Sun., April 29, 2pm:  MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, NH Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing and discussion (Matt & Deb) 

You read that right – the book doesn’t come out for 4 months, and we’ve already got FIVE Dinosaur events planned with many others in the works. No one can say I’m not motivated.

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KidLit603 has launched!

In other news, a new website has emerged on the kidlit scene! If you’re looking for info about New Hampshire-based children’s authors and illustrators, look no further than KidLit603 – the brainchild of a group of NH writers who thought it was about time our state had a more visible way of showcasing those of us who write for children.

At the website you’ll find news, event info, and author links – and if you know of something happening in the area related to children’s literature, send an email!

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

“School People” arrives soon!

And since it is Poetry Friday, I just had to share a little bit of news about School People (Wordsong), the new Lee Bennett Hopkins anthology due out in just a few weeks. There are 15 poems about the people children meet at school…and I’m so honored to have a poem of mine included!

In fact, I’m doubly honored that my poem, “Bus Driver,” is the second poem in the book and immediately follows the opening poem, “School’s Story,” by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Written from from the point of view of the school building, Rebecca’s poem exhorts the reader to “Come on in!” and “Enter whispers, whistles, signs, / footsteps, fossils, notebook lines.”

Other poets whose work is included in the book include Charles Ghigna, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Renee LaTulippe, Irene Latham, Robyn Hood Black, J. Patrick Lewis, and many others. It’s a beautiful book, edited by my Flashlight Night editor Rebecca Davis, and I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy.

Care to read a glowing review from Publisher’s Weekly? Of course you do! 

Care to read another positive review from Kirkus? I knew you would!

Care to check out all of today’s Poetry Friday links? Then head over to Jan Godown Annino’s Bookseedstudio for the complete roundup, where she is celebrating poetry and the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new way to purchase personalized signed copies of not only Flashlight Night, but ANY of my books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!

Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)

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

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

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 twice a week – on 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 FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Poems are Teachers (plus a giveaway!)

Some people just can’t sit still. It was almost exactly one month ago that I featured my friend Amy Ludwig VanDerwater on the ol’ Triple-R blog here, as she celebrated the release of her newest children’s poetry collection, Read! Read! Read! (Boyds Mills Press). Well, guess what…she’s back!

Yesterday marked the book birthday of Amy’s newest baby, Poems are Teachers: How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres (Heinemann) – a tremendously useful and easy-to-understand resource designed to help educators not only teach poetry, but to teach them how poetic tools, forms, and devices strengthen (as the title suggests) writing in general.

The book is a wealth of information and includes poems from folks as diverse as Kwame Alexander, J. Patrick Lewis, Jack Prelutsy, Jane Yolen, Naomi Shihab Nye, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Margarita Engle, and – whoa! Wait a sec…how did I end up in this book?? Indeed, it’s true; many, many of our Poetry Friday family members are contributors, as well!

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

The book also includes numerous poems written by children – students who are learning the particular lessons Amy writes about. But how, exactly, did this book come to be? Amy was kind enough to join us today to talk about it…

Thank you for taking the time to visit, Amy! There are plenty of books out there about poetry and how to teach it, so what made you first decide that this particular book needed to be written?

I have been rolling this book around in my head for a long time.  Reading wise poems has deepened my heart, and writing hundreds of poems has honed my prose. Watching poetry disappear from many classrooms in the name of “Standards” was making me cry, and this idea felt like a secret door in again.  

As Mary Lee Hahn wrote, so many of us are trying to “bring poetry back to writing workshop” and into children’s lives.  My hope is that Poems are Teachers will introduce children and teachers to many poets and that it will open doors between poetry, and narrative, poetry and information, poetry and opinion writing.  Poetry is friends with all!

How does one go about finding a publisher for a book like this before it’s written? Did you approach Heinemann with a proposal first?

Heinemann has a whole process for proposing  professional book which you can check out HERE.  I’ve had a long-standing relationship with Heinemann as an occasional consultant for the past 15+ years, and I am also co-author with Lucy Calkins and Stephanie Parsons of Poetry: Big Thoughts in Small Packages, part of the Grade Two Writing Units of Study.  

I couldn’t feel more grateful to be publishing this book at this time with this thoughtful company and with Katie Wood Ray, an author I’ve admired for years, and an incredible editor.

How did you approach the task of putting it together? That is, how did you determine the best format, the aspects of writing that you wanted to include, etc.?

I am a terribly disorganized person, but I have been teaching writing and about strong qualities of writing for twenty years, so organizing this book through the various layers of writing – from idea-finding through language play – made complete sense to me.  

The challenge was knowing when to stop and trying to juggle the over 150 poems by both adult and child poets.  Imagine piles of poems and permission forms and me….looking bewildered.  I struggled with confidence and with my own writing demons, but that’s where Katie saved the day.

There is plenty for people to learn inside this book…but what did YOU learn from writing it?

I learned that I can do something scary.  And I learned that poets, teachers, children, and families are very generous.  I learned, too, that I still have tons to learn.  This book is just a wee bit about poetry.  There are so many beautiful books, so much to explore.  My hope is that however long my life is…I’ll use each day to become a little bit better of a person and writer.  I know that poems will keep teaching and feeding me.

You also have a brand-new poetry collection that just came out a month ago, Read! Read! Read! (Boyds Mills Press), plus you have more books coming out next year! Considering you started The Poem Farm several years before you were published, how does it feel now, with so much going on??

It feels humbling.  I started The Poem Farm so as not to write alone.  I never imagined all of this goodness.  I hope to be of service and to keep writing in my notebooks, to make a little difference.

Thank you tons, Matt, for sharing your superfun poem, “Soccer Sides” in Poems Are Teachers, and thank you for inviting me here today!  

Well, thank YOU, Amy – for everything you’ve been doing to spread poetry to our kids. Congrats on both of your new books!

I am still smiling like crazy about your Flashlight Night and my Read! Read! Read! releasing together with Boyds Mills Press last month.

That was a great week, I have to agree! Thanks again, Amy.

By the way, folks – if you’d like to WIN A FREE COPY OF POEMS ARE TEACHERS courtesy of our good friends at Heinemann, just leave a comment below, or share this post on Twitter or Facebook (and be sure to tag me, so I’ll know!). I’ll pick a name at random next Thursday at noon and announce the winner in next Friday’s post.

As for my contribution to Poems are Teachers, Amy asked me to write a poem with two distinct halves. Not necessarily two stanzas, but two separate thoughts that combine to make a whole, such as a before-and-after scene, two people talking, or two perspectives of the same subject.

So I thought about it for awhile, and one night driving home from one of my indoor soccer league games, an idea hit me. This is what I came up with:

Soccer Sides

Offense means head down the field –
………..dribble,
………………….pass,
…………………………….try to score!

Goalie blocked your shot?
No sweat!
Follow up and shoot some more!

……………………………………………………………….Defense means hang out in back.
……………………………………………………………….Better keep a watchful eye!
……………………………………………………………….Their offense wants the winning goal –

……………………………………………………………………………….Ha! –
                                                                                                …..I’d like to see them try…
.

– © 2017, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

(click to enlarge)

From the book, here’s a little background on how the poem came to be along with a few words from Amy about the structure:

Whether you teach poetry or write it, this book is an invaluable resource – so I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy. And speaking of poetry, Leigh Anne Eck is hosting Poetry Friday today at A Day in the Life, so be sure to head on over and check out all of this week’s poetry links and fun!

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More “Flashlight Night” news:

I just learned a couple of days ago that Flashlight Night has been selected as one of the Top 20 “Best in Rhyme” rhyming picture books by Angie Karcher’s Rhyme Revolution website!

I’m very happy to be in company with folks like Corey Rosen Schwartz, Lisa Wheeler, the late Anna Dewdney, and fellow former Poets’ Garage alum, Diana Murray, among others.

The final 2017 Best in Rhyme Award announcement will be Feb. 3, 2018 in New York City on KidLit TV – and I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Oh, and the Flashlight Night road tour continues rolling along! Where will I be? When will I be there? Here’s my updated schedule:

  • Oct. 27, 6pm:  Barnes & Noble, Manchester, NH
  • Nov. 1, 12pm:  Concord Hospital Early Childhood Learning Center / Gift Shop, Concord, NH
  • Nov. 11: Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MA (“The Making of a Book” Children’s Author Day)
  • Dec. 2: Barnes & Noble, Peabody, MA
  • (soon-to-be-confirmed: Barnes & Noble, Nashua, NH
  • (soon-to-be-confirmed: Barnes & Noble, Newington, NH
  • (soon-to-be-confirmed: Toadstool Bookshop, Keene/Peterborough/Milford, NH

I’ll continue updating this as dates are added…and thank you again for your support!

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Thank you so much to all who have enjoyed “Flashlight Night” enough to write about it:

“Delicious language…ingenious metamorphoses” – Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“The verse is incantatory…a simple idea that’s engagingly executed” – School Library Journal

An old fashioned, rip-roaring imaginary adventure” – The Horn Book

“[Esenwine and Koehler] don’t just lobby for children to read—they show how readers play” – Publisher’s Weekly

“Imaginative…fantastical” – Booklist

“Favorably recalls Where the Wild Things Are” – Shelf Awareness

“Begs to be read over and over” – Michelle Knott, Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook/Goodreads

“A poetic and engaging journey” – Cynthia Alaniz, Librarian In Cute Shoes

“Illuminates the power of imagination” – Kellee Moye, Unleashing Readers

“Readers will be inspired to…create their own journey” – Alyson Beecher, Kidlit Frenzy

“Beautiful words and stunning illustrations” – Jason Lewis, 5th grade teacher at Tyngsboro Elementary School, Tyngsboro, MA

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