Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getting Ready for National Poetry Month 2010

Well...it's almost April--the month when we kick up our heels and get into rhythm and rhyme and really celebrate poetry. I've updated my 2009 Resources for National Poetry Month post. I eliminated the poetry links that no longer work and added links to the poetry book reviews that I've written in the past year. (I may update the resource post again.)
Don't forget to check out all the resources in The 2009 National Poetry Month Lalapalooza Post. You'll find lots of great poetry links there too!
NOTE: You will find links to both of the above posts in the sidebar at the right throughout the year.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Poetry Book Review & Videos: Our Farm by Maya Gottfried

Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary
Written by Maya Gottfried
Paintings by Robert Rahway Zakanitch
Alfred A. Knopf, 2010

Our Farm is a poetry collection that touches my heart. It speaks out to me through both its text and its exceptional illustrations. Maya Gottfried was inspired to write this book after volunteering at Farm Sanctuary, which is located in Watkins Glen, New York. In the back matter of the book, the author explains that many farm animals today do not live in idyllic conditions. She writes: “They are usually housed in huge, crowded facilities where they are denied the wind, the sun, the green grass, and the warm dirt they love. Enter Farm Sanctuary. Founded in 1986, Farm Sanctuary provides shelter for neglected and abused farm animals.”

Our Farm is a collection of mask poems in which different farm animals (that actually live at Farm Sanctuary) express their feelings and relate their stories to us.

Miss Grandma Moo, a wise old cow, talks to a young calf and tells the calf that she will show him/her the following: the most wonderful spot in the sun, the sweetest patch of grass, and the softest bed of clover.

Cece and Barnaby, two rabbits speak to us in haikus.

J. D. Piglet tells why it’s so great to be able to run around freely:
I can feel the warm sun on my snout…
…the mud is spraying on my belly
so cool
and wet.

Diego, a duck, quacks instructions to little ducklings—tells them to join his parade, explains to them how to flap their feet in the water, and shows them how to march up the bank:

Step one.
Shake two.
Waddle three.
And quack!

Oh, yes!

Hilda, a sheep who was the first animal rescued by Farm Sanctuary, gives thanks for many things—including the wind that cools, the moonbeams that shine, the sunflowers that sway…and the kind hearts and hands/that brought me to my home.

Zakanitch’s realistic illustrations—done in watercolor, pencil, and ink on a blank white background—are extraordinary. They are a perfect complement to Gottfried’s mask poems. Most of the large paintings are of the animals’ faces, which look out to us from the pages. The animals are imbued with personality. Their eyes are expressive. The smaller pencil and ink sketches are more playful and add light touches of humor. The front and back endpapers give us expansive views of Farm Sanctuary and its bucolic setting.

Here is Bonnie, a donkey, giving us her view about life at Farm Sanctuary:
The Hill
by Bonnie, a donkey

the fields and trees
the wide green hills
all in front of me

my name swept by wind
my ears filled with quiet

why ever stray?
i’d rather be here
watch the land
feel the sun.

Click here to visit the Our Farm Book Web site. http://www.ourfarmbook.com/index.html

Our Farm Book Promo

Visit the Farm Sanctuary Web site at http://farmsanctuary.org/

Here are two more poetry books about animals for young children:


Great Read-alouds for Little Listeners: NIBBLE NIBBLE

Click on the following link to see inside Nibble Nibble illustrated by Wendell Minor.

Julie Larios has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Drift Record.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Book Bunch: It's All about the Weather

On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather
Written by Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by Frane Lessac
HarperCollins, 2000

On the Same Day in March is a fine nonfiction picture book that could be used to introduce a unit on weather in the early elementary grades. It’s also an excellent book for connecting science and geography. Both the author and illustrator take readers to various locales around the world on one day of one particular month of the year to show how people living in different places don’t all experience the same kind of weather at the same time.

Singer takes us on a tour of cities, areas of countries, and continents situated in all the hemispheres of the globe. Readers travel to the Arctic; Alberta, Canada; Paris, France; New York City; the Texas Panhandle; the Nile Valley; a Louisiana bayou; Xian, China; Darjeeling, India; Central Thailand; Dakar, Senegal; Barbados; Northern Kenya, the Amazon Basin in Brazil; Darwin, Australia; Patagonia, Argentina; and Antarctica. Lessac’s endpapers label these locales on a hand-painted map of the world.

Here’s a partial weather report for this “same day in March”:
  • There’s a tiny twister in Texas.
  • “Fog threads through the temples” in the Nile Valley.
  • Hailstones fall on a hillside in Darjeeling.
  • In Thailand, it’s hot…hot…hot.
  • The rains leave behind a river in Kenya.
  • It’s raining, too, in the Amazon Basin.
  • While in Patagonia, autumn “shears the clouds like a flock of sheep.”

The text printed on each page of the book is brief—usually just a sentence or two. The illustrations extend the text. They show how animals and people in different habitats experience this particular weather day in March where they reside. Folks in Paris sit outside a café or sell produce in an open market. People swim in the ocean and play cricket at the beach in Barbados. A family in Darwin pulls their boat out of the water and boards up their windows before the willy-willies (cyclones) arrive.

Singer includes A Note from the Author in the back matter of the book.

Click here to read an excerpt from the book. http://www.marilynsinger.net/march.htm

From Open Wide, Look Inside
Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: On the Same Day in March


Here are two books of poems that could be used to integrate poetry with a unit on weather:

Weather: Poems for All Seasons
Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrated by Melanie Hall
HarperCollins, 1994

This is a Level 3 I Can Read Book. It’s excellent for using in primary grades. The twenty-nine poems are organized in five sections: Sun, Wind and Clouds, Rain and Fog, Snow and Ice, Weather Together. It contains works by some of our finest children’s poets—including David McCord, Lilian Moore, Valerie Worth, J. Patrick Lewis, Barbara Juster Esbensen—as well as poems by Carl Sandburg and Langston Hughes.

Here are some excerpts from the SUN section to give you a flavor of the book:

No-Sweater Sun, the first poem in the collection, captures the excitement children feel when spring has finally arrived.

No-Sweater Sun
by Beverly McLoughland

Your arms feel new as growing grass
The first No-Sweater sun,
Your legs feel light as rising air
You have to run—
And turn a thousand cartwheels round
And sing—
So dizzy with the giddy sun
Of spring.

J. Patrick Lewis personifies the “star” of our solar system in Mister Sun—who “puts his gold slippers on” at dawn. He also switches off the “globe lamplight” and pulls “down the shades of night.”

Isabel Joslin Glaser’s summer sun sports a “lion face” at noon and “shakes out/its orangy mane”—and its searing “tongue scorches leaves.” Valerie Worth’s sun “is a leaping fire” that can form “warm yellow squares/on the floor” where a cat can sun itself.

The SUN section is typical of the rest of the book. It includes short poems that are easy to read. Some poems are straightforward rhythmic, rhyming poems of a lighthearted nature; some poems are free verse and do not rhyme; some poems have lovely imagery.

Click here to browse inside this book. http://browseinside.harpercollins.com/index.aspx?isbn13=9780064441919

Seed Sower, Hat Thrower: Poems about Weather
Written by Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrated with photographs
Capstone Press, 2008

Laura Salas wrote poems for this collection in a variety of forms: limerick, cinquain, haiku, concrete, and acrostic. The photographs included in the book served as Laura’s inspiration for her poems. For example: Laura was inspired to write a list poem for the picture of a child flying a kite across an expanse of a bright blue sky dotted with puffs of white clouds:

Wind Is An…

Expert blower
Seed sower
Sailboat go-er
Hat thrower
And, best of all, a
Kite tow-er

Seed Thrower, Hat Thrower: Poems about Weather was published by Capstone for the educational market. It contains poems about fog, arid lands, rain, icicles, lightning, wind, a tornado, and clouds. In the back matter of this book, the author includes a glossary—as well as recommendations for other poetry books about weather and the seasons. In addition, there’s a section titled The Language of Poetry in which the author defines poetic terms—such as alliteration, repetition, free verse, and cinquain.

Edited to Add:

Click here to read more poems from Laura’s book at her blog.

Click here to read another excerpt from the book and for links to a couple of classroom activities at Laura’s Web site.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Picture Books in Verse

Here are three picture books in verse that I highly recommend. The books have wonderful illustrations that add to the charm and telling of the stories. I just didn’t have time to write about the artwork.

Bear Wants More
Written by Karma Wilson
Illustrated by Jane Chapman
Margaret K. McElderry, 2003

Bear Wants More is a terrific picture book to read aloud at the beginning of spring. In this fine follow-up to Bear Snores On, we find Bear awaking and feeling famished when springtime arrives. Bear leaves his den and looks for food.

He waddles around
and roots all around.
He digs and he paws
fresh shoots from the ground.

He nibbles on his lawn
till the last blade is gone.
the bear
wants more!

So bear keeps looking for more...food.

Mouse scampers by and suggests Bear accompany him to Strawberry Vale—where Bear eats and eats and eats…and STILL wants more!

Then Hare comes along and all three animals scoot on over to a clover patch—where Bear nibbles and crunches on his lunch…but he STILL wants more!

Next, Badger shuffles by and takes the animals to an “ol’ fishin’ hole”—where Bear catches fish…and, yes, he STILL wants more!

Meanwhile…Gopher, Mole, Raven, and Wren are back at Bear’s den—decorating it and baking honey cakes for a springtime party for their big friend. Bear smells the scent of something delicious blowing in the breeze. He follows his nose back to his lair—but he’s eaten so much that he can’t fit through his front door. He gets stuck!!!

Badger pries Bear loose with a stick. The animals have their party for Bear outside his lair. Bear’s not finished eating yet. He STILL wants more!

Bear opens presents;
he gobbles honey cakes.
He eats SO much
that his big tummy aches.

He snuggles in the grass
And he snores big snores.
He is full, full, full…
his friends

want more!

Look inside this book: http://www.amazon.com/Bear-Wants-More-Karma-Wilson/dp/068984509X#reader_068984509X

Video Clip: http://video.scholastic.com/services/player/bcpid1842760475?bctid=1688281213

Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud
Written by Lynn Plourde
Illustrated by John Schoenherr
Down East Books, 2006
(Originally published by Blue Sky Press, 1997)

Spring is a muddy season here in the Northeast. Maine author Lynne Plourde wrote this winner of a read-aloud book that was a favorite with my elementary students. Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud is a wonderful rhyming picture book with a refrain that invites participation by young children.

The Story: A family—Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister, and Grandma—are riding along in their Model T Ford after a pouring rain. Of course, the dirt road they’re driving on is now mostly mud. But mud isn’t their only problem—it’s the animals in the mud in the middle of the rud that really impede their travel.

Here’s how the book begins:

It had rained. It had poured.
Now a Model T Ford
was stopped in the rud
by some pigs in the mud.

“Pigs in the mud!”
Grandma said.

Oh no. Won’t do
Gotta shoo. But Who?

“I’ll shoo. That’s who,”
Brother said.

And he shooed.
And he squealed.
And he rutted.
And he reeled.

But the pigs didn’t budge.
Not a tiny little smudge.

That, my friends, is the template for the rest of the book. Next, Grandma spies hens in the mud—and Sister attempts to shoo them from the road. Then Grandma sees sheep and Mama tries to shoo them away. Finally, the old gal hollers that there are bulls in the rud and Papa tries to shoo them from the mud. Unfortunately, Brother, Sister, Mama, and Papa aren’t successful at shooing away the farm animals. So…the job is left to Grandma. She takes charge like a staff sergeant. She puts her hands on her hips—and with a snarl on her lips—she yells at the animals in the mud at the top of her lungs…


And, man, do the pigs, hens, sheep, and bulls take off! No more animals in the mud in the middle of the rud thanks to Grandma.

But look! What’s that a lyin’ in the mud? Heck, it’s Grandma. That’s okay. She’s not flustered at all!

With her dress all rumpled,
and her bonnet all crumpled,
and muddy, head to toe…
Grandma said,
“Time to go!”

Teacher Activities (from Reading Rainbow): http://webapps.monroe.edu/technologyservices/multimedia/guides/3312.pdf

Waddle, Waddle, Quack, Quack, Quack
Written by Barbara Anne Skalak
Illustrated by Sylvia Long
Chronicle Books, 2005

This is another great read-aloud for preschoolers and kindergartners. It would also be a good bedtime book. It’s a story about newly hatched ducklings. Mama takes her ducklings to the lake for a swim. She shows them how to put their heads down under the water for tasty pondweeds. After Mama and her children have finished eating, one of the ducklings drifts off in the reeds. He looks around—but can’t see Mama! He hears thunder crashing. Storm’s coming. The lake is getting rough. The little duckling searches for his mother. He crosses the meadow and goes looking in the grass, near the daisies, up the hill, in a log—but no Mama!

The clouds begin to disappear. The sun comes out again. The little lost duckling heads back to the lake.

Through the shallows to the deep.
Calling mama, peep, peep, peep.
“I’m here!” cries Mama. Quack! Quack! Quack!
“And here you are! You made it back!”

Mama’s other children are happy to see that their lost brother has returned. Dusk is coming on. Mama leads her babies back home--and admonishes them not to roam off alone.

Safe inside their cozy nest,
tired ducklings—time to rest.
Fluffy puffs of gold and brown,
preening, dozing, nestled down.

A few last whispers, peep, peep, peep,
as drowsy ducklings drift to sleep.
Moon climbs in her bed of black.
“Sweet dreams,” says mama. Quack, quack, quack.

Look inside this book: http://www.amazon.com/Waddle-Quack/dp/0811843424/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268315746&sr=1-1#reader_0811843424


The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Some Novel Ideas.

Friday, March 12, 2010

HIBERNATION: An Original Acrostic

Two weeks ago, I posted March, an original poem from an unpublished collection of acrostics about spring. Today, I have the second poem in the collection for you. It’s about a mother bear sensing the arrival of a warmer season—and thinking about taking her cubs out into a world they’ve never seen.

How long have
I slept? How long has it
Been since I’ve
Eaten? I hear the river running again. I must
Rouse my cubs from their slumber
Now…open their eyes to the wonders of spring,
Awaken them to a new life. It is
Time to take my children out
Into the sunlight,
Out into a brighter world they’ve
ever known.


At Blue Rose Girls I have a Poem titled Cold Spring by Lawrence Raab.
The Poetry Friday Roundup is over at Becky’s Book Reviews.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thinking Spring: Children's Books & Poetry for the Season

We've had a spell of lovely sunny weather here lately. It got me to thinking about spring. I thought I'd get a jump-start on the season with this post. It has links to lists of books and some of my original spring poems that I posted previously at Wild Rose Reader.

From Reading Rockets
Ten Books for Spring

From InfoSoup
Spring Books and Media

From The Miss Rumphius Effect
Seeds and Growing Things
Springing to Life

From Wild Rose Reader

Two Puddle Poems & Some Poetry for Spring
Acrostic Poems for Spring
Welcoming Spring...with Poetry

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Here & There: March 9, 2010

From School Library Journal (March 2010)
Bustling Biomes: Desserts and Grasslands by Kathy Piehl
ALSCA & YALSA Book Picks 2010

From The Horn Book (March/April 2010)
An Interview with Katherine Paterson by Roger Sutton
Sharing the Love: A salute to the incoming Ambassador--Editorial by Martha V. Parravano

From A Year of Reading
2010 NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts—posted by Mary Lee Hahn

From the National Science Teachers Association
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12: 2010 (Books published in 2009)

From Reading Tub
Booklists by Theme

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Epitaph for John Edwards by J. Patrick Lewis over at Political Verses

I have a new post over at Political Verses: Epitaph for John Edwards by J. Patrick Lewis. The post includes a recommendation for Lewis's poetry book Once Upon a Tomb: Gravely Humorous Verses--illustrated by Simon Bartram (Candlewick, 2006)

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Wedding Day Poem

Here's a poem I wrote about Grace Lin's lovely wedding that I attended last Sunday:
Fairy Tale Wedding

Origami cranes wearing party prints
watch over the day.
On tables, pink rosebuds
bloom in vases
filled with glitter.
Delicate paper cuttings
trim the room with lace.
Gold candles flicker on the mantle.
Flowers bloom on the hearth...
give off the scent of a spring day.
A painted teapot sits on a table
ready to pour sweet tradition
from its spout.
Paper lanterns hang from branches,
fill with light music
as the guitarist strums soft chords
and two women sing a song of love.
Enchanted guests await
the prince and princess
who are to marry today
and begin their journey
to happily ever after.


Find out more about Grace’s wedding at these blog posts:

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Teaching Books

Edited to add: I forgot to include a link to my post at Blue Rose Girls. Click here to read the wedding poem that Janet Wong and I wrote for Grace Lin.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

2010 CCBC Choices Announced

Selected by Kathleen T. Horning, Merri V. Lindgren and Megan Schliesman with Tessa Michaelson

Note from the CCBC: CCBC Choices is the annual best-of-the-year list of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. The complete CCBC Choices 2010 publication featuring books published in 2009 will include annotations and recommended ages for all of the books included, as well as an author/title/subject index, and a commentary on the publishing year. CCBC Choices 2010 will be available at the CCBC after March 6, 2010.

Click here to see the extensive list of 2010 CCBC Choices.

I was happy to see that my friend Grace Lin's book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Jarrett Krosoczka's "Lunch Lady" books made the list!

Some of the 2010 CCBC Choices:

Fiction for Children
  • Lin, Grace. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Little, Brown, 2009.
  • Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
  • Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
  • Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

Poetry Books

  • Sidman, Joyce. Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors. Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. Houghton Mifflin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.
  • Argueta, Jorge. Sopa de frijoles: un poema para cocinar = Bean Soup: A Cooking Poem. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Groundwood Books/Libros Tigrillo/House of Anansi Press, 2009.
  • Florian, Douglas. Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings. Atheneum, 2009.
  • Harley, Avis. African Acrostics: A Word in Edgewise. Photographs by Deborah Noyes. Candlewick Press, 2009.
  • Hopkins, Lee Bennett, selector. Sky Magic. Illustrated by Mariusz Stawarski. Dutton, 2009.
  • Hughes, Langston. My People. Photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr. Ginee Seo Books/Atheneum, 2009.
  • Hughes, Langston. The Negro Speaks of Rivers. Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. Jump at the Sun Books / Disney, 2009.
  • Janeczko, Paul B., selector. A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. Candlewick Press, 2009.
  • Rosen, Michael J. The Cuckoo’s Haiku and Other Birding Poems. Illustrated by Stan Fellows. Candlewick Press, 2009.
  • Ruddell, Deborah. A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems. Illustrated by Joan Rankin. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2009.
  • Shange, Ntozake. We Troubled the Waters. Illustrated by Rod Brown. Amistad/Collins/HarperCollins, 2009.
  • Smith, Hope Anita. Mother Poems. Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, 2009.
  • Soto, Gary. Partly Cloudy: Poems of Love and Longing. Harcourt/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Wonderful Wedding Day!!!!!

Oh, what a wonderful day!!! Here are some of the pictures that I took at Grace Lin's wedding yesterday. Everything looked beautiful. The food was scrumptious. Everyone was so happy--especially the bride and groom!

The following pictures were taken "upstairs" at The Lyceum Restaurant in historic Salem, Massachusetts.
Some handmade paper cranes for decoration

Which one is a Blue Rose Girl?

Grace's handmade paper cuttings and delicious desserts

The groom made the cupcake display.

Grace painted the bride and groom at the top of the display.
Some of the lovely and delicious homemade cookies

Alvina says a few words.

Grace prepared a special cupcake for each person who came to the wedding.
Who's the happy cupcake couple below?
That's my husband and me.

I don't think Grace stopped smiling for a minute!

Alvina has more wedding pictures at Blue Rose Girls.

The Small Graces March 2010 Auction Is On!!!

Announcement from The Foundation for Children's Books:

Painting by Author/Illustrator David Costello
In 2009, the talented and generous author/illustrator Grace Lin donated 11 original paintings to the Foundation for Children's Books to be auctioned on eBay as a benefit for our programs in under-served schools.

In this new year, we are fortunate enough to have 12 different illustrators contributing to our "Small Graces" auction. Each month a small, unpublished, original painting will be auctioned on eBay with 100% of the proceeds to support the FCB's author/illustrator visits and residencies in urban schools. Each painting will illustrate a bit of wisdom, a proverb, or a "small Grace."

This month's painting (above), a sweet watercolor by author/illustrator David Costello, is on auction now Monday 3/1 through Friday 3/5.

Click here for the eBay link and to bid!

For those who find original art from children's books beyond their budget, this is a great way to buy affordable art! Please spread the word and bid!

David Hyde Costello is the author and illustrator of Here They Come, a lively picture book about goblins on Halloween night. His second book, I Can Help, hits book stores this month. Visit him online here.

Don't forget: You can purchase high-quality, hand-signed prints of three of Grace Lin's 2009 paintings online at the Child at Heart Gallery. The cost is $25, they make wonderful gifts, and half of the proceeds will support the Foundation for Children's Books.