ISLAND’S END by Padma Venkatraman

(Heidi, at My Juicy Little Universe, squeezes flavors on Poetry Friday this week.)

Island’s End, a novel from
Padma Venkatraman

This spring through a workshop,
I learned about a novel from poet &
award-winning novelist Padma Venkatraman.
Although this post isn’t about her novel-in-verse,
A TIME TO DANCE, which I expect to
bring to a post later,
I hope you will like beginning to know her works.
And if you already found her, I’m glad we share
appreciation for Padma (also known as T V Padma)

ISLAND’S END by Padma Venkatraman

This contemporary-set novel welcomed me to
meet a hunter-gatherer tribe, lead by the elder,
Lah-ame.
I became pulled into their ways. The characters
& the setting feel so real, I would welcome a
story about their earlier years, leading up to the
time that we meet the communal villagers.

ISLAND's END by Padma Venkatram, Penguin Young Readers Group

ISLAND’s END by Padma Venkatram, Penguin Young Readers Group

Ideal Readers of this book, look for stories involving:

Nature
Back country camping
Self-sufficient subsistence societies
Coastal-set stories
Girl leaders
Little brothers/families
First Peoples
Love

The story line
Lah-ame, the tribal family’s longtime & wise male
leader, and the main character, Uido, the chosen new leader,
a young woman, are faced with an intrusion of outsiders
coveting wood of fabulous trees, set in contemporary times.

Favorite line
“Maya covers her face with her hands, as though tears
are something to be ashamed of. I put my arms around
her, but she does not sob.”
(about a visiting outsider, Maya, who doesn’t want to harm
the people or resources of the isolated island)

Favorite scene
If I say, I’ll be sharing a key plot element, but
the rituals & traditions of the tribe call out
to my inner-anthropologist self.

Book bonus 1
Pitcher plants! Seasonal pitcher plant bogs grace
the wild part of our North Florida world; I can’t
remember when I’ve found these unusual plants
to be an important feature of a
beautiful novel the way they are here.

Book bonus 2
Inspired by a writing prompt shared at
Reflections on the Teche by Poetry Friday’s
Margaret Simon,
I selected words that feel charged, played with them
& offer this found poem,
inspired by ISLAND’S END:

Water slurps
by Jan Annino

Healer
Drumbeat
Dreams

Healer prays
Apprentice prays

Drongo bird*
Crocodile
Monitor lizard

Turtle fat
Bear skin
Beeswax glue

Healer prays
Apprentice prays

Cliff
Beach
Reef

Healer prays
Apprentice prays

~ Jan Annino

*Drongo bird

Book bonus # 3
The author’s oceanography career before publishing novels
sailed her to many places, including islands off India.
In learning that some island groups inexplicably avoided
harm from the disastrous 2004 tsunami, she found a
story route into how that could be.

For more on Padma Venkatraman, author of
CLIMBING THE STAIRS
ISLAND’S END
A TIME TO DANCE

The Nerdy Book Club

Padma Venkatraman’s website

Meet Padma at these places:
James River Writers Conference 2016

Highlights Foundation, 2017

Explore some more

EXPLORING
Judith Viorst

“…I’ll ponder the sea serpent’s slither; the shark’s slashing fin,
I’ll wander the world and beyond it, by foot and by rocket,
To where the sky ends and mysterious rivers begin…”
copyright Judith Viorst, in her poetry collection, SAD UNDERWEAR

A link to the poet, Judith Viorst

http://www.poemhunter.com/judith-viorst/

I Meant To Do My Work Today
by Richard Le Gallienne

…“but a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
and a butterfly flitted across the field,
and all the leaves were calling me
and the wind went sighing over the land
and…”
– copyright Richard Le Gallienne

A link to the poet, Richard Le Gallienne

http://www.poemhunter.com/richard-le-gallienne/biography/
(* added July 22, 2015
This poem came to me years ago in the huggable book,
SUNFLOWER HOUSES by my favorite celebrity garden guru, Sharon Lovejoy. It does the soul good, to dwell with not only Gallienne’s poem, but with Lovejoy’s lovely book.)

I am betwixt Judith Viorst and Richard Le Gallienne to explain
my sensation this summer. I have delighted in discovery of
the next child’s swaying & singing at a reading
but also,
a chimpmunk feeding
a snail leaving a trail

unnamed-13
Boston chipmunk I snapped in a garden.

-9
Elegant land snail in our front yard.

I’ve enjoyed three summer presentations to students at two day camps & one at our library. And I’ve managed a mighty fine amount of writing, which is my only summer goal. At the library we sang a verse of mine in the voice of books stuck inside the library on shelves, books that would love to glide out & go home with us.

I’m so happy
I’m so happy
Because
I’m gliding
not hiding
away..

-11

So, lucky me to experience another kind of gliding on the Wakulla River with my family & giant marine potatoes we joined on the long float.

copyright A.A  2015, Anna Annino, all rights reserved

copyright A.A. 2015, Anna Annino, all rights reserved

Because I am fortunate to live in Florida these weren’t my first manatees, but season after season, nothing prepares me for the exotic scene – slow rolls of table-long loaves. In the quiet that falls upon us as we turn our bodies above water to keep them in sight by our side, we hope for the moments when we hear the
pfffft! one emits, when it enters our shared airspace to exhale old air and fill lungs again.
Every breath they take that I witness is the opening of a sea treasure chest.

Appreciations

November evokes warm good feelings and smiles. It’s my anniversary month with my hubby who made my heart melt because he was game enough to put on a silly wig and dress up with me for Halloween with friends who also did the favor of dressing up & reciting original scary tales or poems or reading favorite traditional spoofy pieces. It carried me into November the way I like it to be – a full month of giving thanks, not just on the significant Nov 27.

For several years, where I’m a volunteer picture book reader in a school I love, I’ve shared poems that are written about thanks and thanks-giving,  from authors of First Peoples/Native American/American Indian heritage.

Some of the resources I turn to are:

THE CIRCLE OF THANKS: Native American Poems and Songs of Thanksgiving told by Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki) with pictures by Murv Jacobs

51eePrPz53L._AA160_

THE EARTH UNDER SKY BEAR’S FEET: Native American Poems of the Land, collected and told by Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki), and illustrated by Thomas Locker

ENDURING WISDOM, Sayings from Native Americans, selected by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, with paintings by Snythia Saint James.

Each is beautifully illustrated and look like jewels, sitting open on the top of a child-height bookcase.

Additionally Joseph Bruchac features original poems at his site. Further, I find materials that expand on the topic, from these four resources, previously mentioned on this Bookseedstudio site.

Many poems for children speak to a keen awareness of animals, trees and plants, land, or the Earth itself, rivers, lakes and sky, particularly during what Joseph Bruchac calls, “the living night.”

Because we are anticipating the homecoming of our daughter for Thanksgiving, which she hasn’t been able to celebrate with us for many years, I especially relate to these lines, from THE CIRCLE OF THANKS:

“As I play my drum

I look around me

and I see my people.

And my people are dancing

in a circle about me

and my people, they are beautiful.”

(Micmac, Northeast Coast)

copyright Joseph Bruchac

I am thankful for poets, for teachers, for the children’s literature community, for Poetry Friday creators, and for every breath I take. And of course, for my Family.

 

 

Green Poetry

Kermit’s green is a color that surrounds us here in North Florida so you would think it is hard to miss. But guess what – don’t we all experience how that which is familiar, can become less special?

But, Ho! Visitors from the parched West arrive. And they play in our nature’s backyard. And so we play, too. And it’s like feeling the world anew with the sensory overload of a healthy toddler.

“Green! It’s so green here,” they marvel, these green-seeking, water-wanting folks. And they are right, thank them. Through their eyes my hubby & I see our gorgeous green world, again. And in celebration, I’m sharing the color green from three poets writing for children.

 

THE GREAT BIG GREEN by Peggy Gifford, with illustrations from my friend Lisa Desimini, is the newest book.

 

“The thing is,

the thing is green.

And the green is,

the green is green.

And by green I mean

real

mean

I mean

dragon green

anaconda green

electric-eel green

green-iguanas-in-the-sun green.”

c. 2014 Peggy Gifford

c. Lisa Desimini and Peggy Gifford

c. Lisa Desimini and Peggy Gifford

 

 

I like the way Peggy dips into the hues and presents  tints of greens not always covered in books about colors for children. The surprise riddle that runs through this picture book is fun to test whether you & the kiddos can solve this one. I think you will!

Lisa provides a note about the scanning of her own skin, photos & other materials for the mixed media collages, including green marble from the Emerald Isle, Ireland.

The spectrum of inventive green art & word imagery of THE GREAT BIG GREEN make this a mighty fine addition to any colorful bookshelf for young readers.

 

WELCOME TO THE GREEN HOUSE by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Laura Regan is the first book about the tropical rainforest (as opposed to our U.S. Pacific NW rainforest) that our family spent time with when our college age daughter was a toddler. It’s a challenge to pick just a few lines to share but here goes:

 

“…where the slow, green-coated sloth

and the quick-fingered capuchin

make their slow-quick ways

from room to room

in the green house,

in the dark green,

light green,

bright green,

copper green,

blue green,

ever-new green house.”

c.1993 Jane Yolen

 

My signed copy is on the To Mail shelf, as it was won just this week, here.

But the claimant didn’t have a chance yet to come forward with a postal address so if that continues, I may become fortunate & move it back to my permanent poetry pile.

 

c. Jane Yolen and Laura Regan

c. Jane Yolen and Laura Regan

 

HAILSTONES & HALIBUT BONES by Mary O’Neill with illustrations by John Wallner (Leonard Weisgard created art for the very first edition) is the standard against which I think about books on color for children. We received this modern classic (with a storylife of its own as a multimodal way of sharing color with sightless or low-vision children) as a family gift from writer/editor Susan Cerulean when my hubby & I were new to parenting. At the time I didn’t fully appreciate how this sophisticated yet accessible book would work wonders. It’s a book to have read to you, with your eyes closed, as each color is represented in a Mary O’Neill poem through the feeling it can create.

HAILSTONES & HALIBUT BONES is a deft, deep & delicious collection of poems about colors. I know I haven’t seen every childrens’ book on all the colors, but I’m guessing that if I did, HH&B would sill rank with as my personal best.

 

Here is Mary O’Neill on, “What is Green?”

 

“Green is the grass

And the leaves of trees

Green is the smell

Of a country breeze.

Green is lettuce

And sometimes the sea

When green is a feeling

You pronounce it N.V.

Green is a coolness

You get in the shade

Of the tall old woods

Where the moss is made.”

c. 1961 Mary O’Neill

c. Mary O'Neill and John Wallner

c. Mary O’Neill and John Wallner

 

“Green Poetry” article citation: Bookseedstudio/Jan Godown Annino April 11, 2014

c. all rights reserved

 

Ursus

This time of year big black refrigerators of the woods, bears, still slumber in the United States.

Bear specialists tell us that here in Florida, they don’t enter a true hibernation.

A few published poems of mine are about black bears. That is fitting as these wild, grub and berry eaters and I have met up three times unexpectedly. I’m not looking for any more crossing of paths, except in literature.

When I pick up a poetry collection that is new to me, as I have with Lucille Clifton’s evocative BLESSING THE BOATS, I am drawn to any poem story that employs themes in my world, such as the Ursus topic.

BLESSING’s poem, “imagining bear” is dedicated to Alonzo Moore,  Sr., by Lucille Clifton.

In part, it reads:

imagine him too tall and too wide

for the entrance to the parlor  

imagine his hide gruff; the hair on him

grizzled even to his own hand  

imagine his odor surrounding him

rank and bittersweet as bark  

I am struck by this on a rainy Wednesday morning. An idea I ponder is how fur-bearing animals don’t catch colds, develop bronchitis, from routine soakings in the wild.  (Manatees can develop pneumonia.)

A character I have summoned and have put on an island is someone who I think of in bear metaphors.

Clifton’s bear and my bears,  new character and in poems  (Milkweed Editions, the one & two with The Journal of Florida Literature) aren’t the Orlando bears most associated with my state, the theme world entertainers.

Although, tenderly handling the ragged bear hand puppet that survived my childhood, I found a muse to bring me bear poems for little children.

In sober poems, bears frighten. They are prowlers.

As Clifton writes:

imagine his growl filling the wind  

Here is a review that does justice to Lucille Clifton’s BLESSING THE BOATS.

bookish cheese, with cat & mouse

What was by my side from the Thanksgiving holidays right on through, well, it’s still by my side, is cheese. I’m not talking about the cream cheese with chives of my youth or the brie of my 30s, but the robust hard cheeses of my middle age. And If I look to share blame for this overindulgence, I will charge & convict, but spare a sentence in the Tower of London a particular volume, for being an accomplice in an abundance of cheese love.

The culprit is a deftly illustrated book for ages 9-12  (& for those of us adults who read a lot of children’s books) that is also a beautifully told story of love among unlikely friends: The Cheshire Cheese Cat.

Barry Moser, of his own Pennyroyal Press and many superior  projects, is the artist. And that signals a lot right there. Co-authors are Carmen Agra Deedy,  one of this nation’s most beloved storytellers & a rip-roaring picture book author (The Library Dragon, The Secret Old Zeb  & many more.) I was ever more her fan after I met her last year at the UCF Morgridge International Book Festival. Her co-author here in this is new to me;  Randall Wright  is now a writer I want to become familiar with for titles such as The Silver Penny. 

In this collaboration, an uncommon blue alleycat, Skilley & a London chesse pub’s mouse, Pip,  team up with a perfectly named girl, Nell, & a big bird. It’s fun, it beautifully carries off what the most welcome picture books do-  bringing something clever to the story for adults. It also calls to mind the affection among unlikely characters in the Garth Williams-illustrated classic, The Cricket in Times Square.  Surprises & secrets & yes, some sadness (watch out for that cleaver!) are salted through The Cheshire Cheese Cat, with a fond nod to Dickens & many atmospheric aspects of  Olde London.

“The innkeeper bent forward, hands on knees, and inspected Skilley with a critical eye. London’s alleyways, docks and sewers appeared to have dealt harshly with the young cat. The artful dodging of hansom cabs, chamber pots, and inevitable fishwives’ brooms had left him with a ragged ear, numerous scrapes, and a tracery of scars.”

photo post June 2011

A whirlwind visit of wonder and wonderful connections to South Florida – recently concluded.

My hubby received an award for his juvenile justice work. I luxuriated in visits with gal pals I rarely see, including our daughter’s godmother/my dear college roommate & my great newsroom pal who has raised her family in Russia & Kenya & California, but is rarely in here in FLA, her homestate.

Our family walked the beaches.

And found evidence of ocean stalking.

For my biologist pals – This is a rare beaked whale, found on my dawn walk at the same time the turtle patrol came upon it. The study of this creature will help marine mammal specialists understand this deep-ocean dweller. They usually feed in ocean canyons and are little-researched.  The folo- up news from Hubbs/SeaWorld & others onsite is that the animal died of some natural cause(s). It then became a portable cafeteria, in the circle of life as it drifted inshore.

Florida has an extensive system of lifeguarded beaches; please swim in lifeguarded places ya’ll.

POSTSCRIPT: regarding interest in  more images.

I took two additional views & they are gruesome.

Here is a link to a report in local news

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2011/jun/09/rare-beaked-whale-carcass-found-on-fort-pierce/