An apple poem by Barbara Juster Esbensen

For more about poetry & young readers,
please see Heidi’s drinkable roundup at
My Juicy Little Universe.

apple star photo/kiwicrate.com

courtesy of kiwicrate

courtesy of kiwicrate

All you living in autumnland, as I write this it is
summer weather here.

And yet at the market the best fresh berries are
gone. Or, they are too far from Florida, for me to be
interested in them.

I was happy to carry home a fruit I haven’t bought
since spring. A reliable crisp round fruit, to slice, with a
sprinkle of cinnamon on it, for a snack & to add to my
cereal – hot or cold.

And I thought of one of my favorite children’s poets,
Barbara Esbensen.

I went looking for her poem about this treat that
tucks a sky surprise inside. I’m sure this teacher and mother,
savored many of them, coming from far north Wisconsin & living there
or in Minnesota.

Discovery
by Barbara Juster Esbensen

Within its polished universe
The apple holds a star,
A secret constellation
To scatter near and far.

©Barbara Juster Esbensen

For the rest of this lovely poem find the first
edition (1964) or the second edition ( 2003) of her seasonal
poems, collected as SWING AROUND THE SUN.
I’m also a fan of the artist Mary GrandPre, so the 2003
edition is handy on my books-to-travel shelves to share in school.
Mary GrandPre’s apple face is all-knowing and kind, even though
it’s about to get eaten.

(My Nikon died & I haven’t aced levitating images from
my new Canon into digital world, so I don’t have a photo of the lovely
apple page in the collection.)

SwingAroundTheSun_2003
Each season’s poems by Barbara Esbensen in
SWING AROUND THE SUN are illustrated by a different artist – Winter,
Stephen Gammell, Spring, Cheng-Khee Chee, summer, Janice Lee Porter
& five luxurious images from Mary GrandPre, for autumn.

I came to Barbara Esbensen’s work in 2007, through her
WHO SHRANK MY GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE? illustrated by Eric Beddow,
which I found in a Roanoke, Va. bookshop. Many of the poems
in this collection are free verse. And that is the style of
poetry writing she taught to children, so they would be able
to put pencil to paper pouring out vivid imagery & without
the constraint of rhyming.

I am struck by the poet’s artful way of arranging
words. And I like to share with children how she lavished poem
attention on one of my beloved everyday objects, the pencil.

Here, from WHO SHRANK MY GRANDMOTHER’S
HOUSE? are thoughts within another autumnal poem,
by Barbara Esbensen.

Tell Me
by Barbara Esbensen


“Why do you think
the birches
are standing in our yard
in their underwear?”

shrank

If you would like to treat yourself to a visit with
one of our best children’s poets, I’ve collected a few resources.

A CELEBRATION OF BEES, Helping Children to Write Poetry
by Barbara Juster Esbensen, foreword by Lee Bennett Hopkins

The poet shares fabulous works created by her young students,
sometimes in their own printing or cursive & occasionally
with their own art, such as on the cover. It is an uplifting
guide to helping children discover the poetry inside themselves.

A Celebration of Bees, Helping Children to Write Poetry by Barbara Juster Esbensen

A Celebration of Bees, Helping Children to Write Poetry
by Barbara Juster Esbensen

NCTE interview by M.Jean Greenlaw

Article at Bookology, by her husband Tory Esbensen

An homage to this literary artist (1925-1996)

An article by her editor-fan, fellow poet, Lee Bennett Hopkins

And fortunately, a nourishing video recollection by Lee Bennett Hopkins at the generous Renee LaTulippe’s
NO WATER RIVER site.

And remember, the Poetry Friday go-go juice is with Heidi at her tasty site.

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gratitude for my latitude

With the wee drop in temperatures in North Florida,  I sense a tempo  leap.

And so matching that, I am almost completed with revising a chapter book.

On a new project, I touch the word count bar to see how far a new story character and I journeyed in one day. I read a mistake.

It can’t be 2,600 words. My legs were stiff when i pushed away from the keyboard for the last time yesterday. So they also say it is true.

If you wonder about working with the community that is National Novel Writing Month, which helps develop dreams of story creation, it’s not too late for 2012. And anyone can use the group’s model to make a better month for you, your personal NaNoWriMo.

From the Dublin, Ireland, Library

I met up with a NaNoWriMo crew at a kick-off party. The construction paper origami guide given to each hopeful creator observes me now on my desk.  When I want to stray,  origami bunny is a tangible reminder of the 1,000 words a day I want.

Thank you to our thoughtful  NaNoWriMo folks.

OTHER GUIDES

For this nation’s month of Thanksgiving, I fill  with gratitude to live so well in this FL latitude.

Hurricane Sandy raked over the New Jersey beach, Seaside Heights, where years back I regularly rolled down dunes and got sick stuffing my mouth with a bag of salt water taffy. Dear family members are still without power at the CT shore – it may be a week or longer, but they are safe & nestled with another family member. Family members living near  Narragansett, RI are also fine. Extra thanks given with the turkey, in November 2012.

Before I scoot away during the rest of these 30 days, I share titles of good books for younger readers, about American indian/Native American topics.

November is the month more than any other, when we celebrate this continent’s First Peoples.

Beyond  the high quality of these picture books they share an additional crucial element. I hope you can discern it through my mention of them here.  You may also want to visit the Oyate and American Indians in Children’s Literature resources, for insights that deepen our connection to this month. Thank you.

JINGLE DANCER by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee)

THE STAR PEOPLE b;y S.D. Nelson (Standing Rock Sioux)

SQUANTO’s JOURNEY, THE CIRCLE OF THANKS, THE FIRST STRAWBERRIES, THE EARTH UNDER SKY BEAR’S FEET by Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki)

hurricane season

WHAT stories for young readers have hurricanes as the backdrop? We can always react to a seasonal interest with out of print books such as Hurricane Luck by Carl Carmer.  A review of the Katrina-inspired A PLACE WHERE HURRICANES HAPPEN, from Renee Watson in 2010, is here.

And thanks to the timely comment (see below) I’m pleased to post a link to a review and comment  on a new hurricane picture book,  A STORM CALLED KATRINA by Myron Uhlberg, with  illustrations by Colin Bootman.

For my current hurricane reading, I am taking cover against predicted rains from Lee, in the classic 1958 non-fiction from the Everglades’ protector, Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

YURACAN is only one word for the worrisome weather.

To fathom hurricanes, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas studied them for three years in league with the (old) Hurricane Research Project of the U.S. Weather Bureau, Miami.

As we seek from a legendary writer who herself was a force of nature, living until 108, her quest resulted in goodness – a 393-page nonfiction literary volume, HURRICANE.   And yes, the view of destruction on the back cover from my own prized volume is a blurry image from Montauk, Long Island.   So this older book has resonance for today, what with the recently departed H. Irene having discombobulated family & friends in New England.

I recommend the Douglas history of these killer cyclones. It is a keen read, especially for those recently/currently acquainted in a personal way with one. Some dear family &  pals went for days – almost a week for one family, without power.  So a history of indoor plumbing & the shower is more appreciated than ever in these times. But that’s another book.

Also, I can’t talk about hurricanes without sending you to read up on book loss at libraries, as a result of Irene. Be generous if you can, starting with information from an alert & talented author, whose pages I traveled to via an indispensible blog at  School Library Journal.

HURRICANE was first published in 1958. Douglas reports on a 1464 hurricane that dealt a coup de grace to Mayans.  She sails on from there, dropping anchor for interesting ports of call such as : “In 1790 on his trip down the Ohio, George Washington noted hurricane damage to the trees between Steubenville, Ohio and Wheeling, West Virginia.”

Her book reminds us/introduces us to Yuracan & other suspected sources of our term, hurricane, including the Indians we know as Caribs, the island dwelling Tainos  and the good people of Central and South America.  Her recounting of the beliefs about the gods of wind and storms fascinates.

Douglas also covers geography of past destruction, including a detailed section & maps of  “Hurricanes, North.” So the possibility of Irene’s interesting path away from Florida and up into the rivers of Vermont may have come as no surprise if we read our history, which of course we do, correct? No, not nearly enough.

from HURRICANE by Marjory Stoneman Douglas "A boat awash at Montauk, Long Island - photographed by The New York Times"

One of my favorite aspects of this book involves the stories of heroes who risk their lives to save people from injury and death as a result of hurricanes.

In looking backward with Douglas, it is clear how today’s forecast information, which, let’s be honest, we take for granted, would have been worshipped, cheered, embraced & yes, well-heeded in times past.

To not follow it today seems without enough regard for the first responders who can risk their lives in hurricane-affiliated rescues. And some of those stressful storm-soaked saves may be unnecessary, if only said stranded residents had heeded warnings.

We know much more about inevitable hurricanes today, than when Douglas wrote beautifully on them with that era’s limited knowledge, some 50 years ago. So this makes me ponder: What makes sense about new construction or rebuilding, in marshes, on riverbanks that flood hugely after strong sustained storms, on our coastal sands,  & in similar zones?

Despite the heft of this book, it is a fast-paced read. Especially in hurricane season, which lasts, I recall, through October.

It was reissued in 1976 and if you are pondering which library near you carries which edition, a fast way to look is with the wonderful World Catalogue  WorldCat http://www.world.cat.org

Full disclosure: Douglas personally charmed my reading club during her long visit with us, captured in a photograph of her on my sofa. I am in touch with most book group pals, but if I haven’t heard from you in ages, please give a shout.  I don’t have a functioning scanner at this moment but do want to get that photo up here. Please check back after the next few hurricanes! I expect to have it posted then.

In the meantime, check with your Red Cross folks, follow the forecasts & take a look at hurricane books.

D.C. days

Try to remember when you first visited Washington, D.C.

For me, as a child.

Tall, white buildings.

Giant animals frozen in time.

Glittering Hope Diamond. And rubies. And emeralds.

The actual monster space travelers from NASA.  (see the re-entry scars!) These were in OUTER SPACE!

Fountains.

Big carved rocks of men on horses at every traffic circle.

I also remember touring The White House with my family in the 1960s. This was before the days of

heritage tourism.  There were no rest room facilities for the public. But a member of our party needed one.

So this person received an unusual private tour to a lovely room reserved for VIP guests.  And the sneak peeks

down halls & opening & closing doors as staff performed their duties, was the top topic the rest of the day.

I visit D.C. as often as I can, which is made sweet by having a longtime college pal who

is generous in sharing her townhouse with friends. And another pal who also shares. Thank you folks!


Recently the trip turned judicial, because my public interest lawyer husband was involved in an important juvenile justice  case at the Supreme Court. First visit to that august body. And naturally there wasn’t time enough to learn enough. A return visit expected.  Let me just say: Go Justice Sonia, Go!

 

 

http://www.culturaltourismdc.org

WALKING D.C.

The connected folks at Cultural Tourism D.C.

www.culturaltourismdc.org

sent me & my walking boots to their site, to  explore with my eyes before I arrived.

I settled on a tour of The Mall.

Our leader with the blue umbrella, Tim Stewart, a retired h.s. guidance counselor, knew the hills & vales to lead us to,

the front porch & back porch gossip, & the best place to adjust soggy situations.  (I used the automatic hand dryer in a women’s restroom to remove puddles that my boots soaked up.)  For nearly 2 hours – and I’m sure he could have brought us to more sites – he regaled us with his love of our Mall.  We were of U.S., Paraguay & Asian heritage.  Ask for Tim when you make your plans.

Although I have to say that my trip with my husband to gaze with love at our Nation’s Sacred Documents of Freedom &  one of the the Brit’s original Magna Cartas (1297!!!) at the National Archives sits at the top of the list on this visit,  Walking the Mall with our  Guide is a close 2nd.

This was on Memorial Day, folks, we were in the midst of poignant moments, floral tributes, military honor guard at the Vietnam Memorial (s). And it was funeral, the gray sky, the chizzle (chill drizzle).  My heart leapt. My father, the American Legion Commander of his post in Our Hunterdon County, N.J. town, honored his Memorial Days. I placed my hand over my

heart, for our troops’ brave service. Then I hummed as a prayer, brilliant John Lennon’s words,  war is over … So be it.

World War II Memorial

Washington, D.C.  Nov. 11, 2009

trees

In parts of the world, but not where I live in North Florida, plants are stretching tall in springtime.

We always appreciate trees when the leaves are new. But I think in the fall & winter, when the  full show of their

green is absent, this is a time to consider what our every day world would be like, if we lived in a land where the trees as we understood them to grow naturally, in woods, & in clumps at seepages of water, down hillsides and circling fileds, were only planted in rows.  Or if the trees weren’t there at all. Maybe you have lived without the cloaks of trees. But I have not. I grew up by a woods. My mother recited the line, “Woodman! spare that tree,” to me about the youth who was sheltered by a tree & could therefore not cut it, when he was older.

When I read children’s books about the tree woman of Kenya, Wangari Maathai, I felt that she must have loved being a little girl, & that in that time of her life, she must have loved trees.  The shade of them, the fruit of them, the branches of them.

There are several good children’s books about her. The one I currently have is from author/artist Claire A. Nivola.

Like all good books, it made me want to know more about what happened to Kenya’s trees. And about how Ms. Maathai brought them back.

So my bedside reading right now is Unbowed: a memoir by Wangari Maathai.


Books for the Boo!

We keep creepy Halloween in a box 11 months out of the year.

Come October, the ghosties & ghoulies, black cats & bats

are let out of the box.

We hammer tombstones into the yard dirt & place home-made pumpkins

of paper around the living room.

My daughter puts read-aloud Halloween books on a low  table.

And she & her father stuff & dress a scarecrow who guards our yard. We will all

carve the pumpkin closer to the big evening.

What are your favorite Halloween titles? Once you read some of ours, these may become a grand part of

your Halloween bookshelf:

SIX CREEPY SHEEP by Judith Ross Enderle & Stephanie Gordon Tessler, with illustrations from John O’Brien

BAT JAMBOREE by Kathi Appelt, with illustrations by Melissa Sweet

THE LITTLE SCARECROW BOY by Margaret Wise Brown (yes, MWB herself, without a bunny in sight) and brought to a delightful modern art interpretation by David Diaz.

Trick or Treat (I want it to be Treat) to You & Yours

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