Pick A Pumpkin: meet children’s picture book poet Patricia Toht

[Poetry Friday is collected by Carol who savors summer this week. Go, see at her “Linky” page.]

. . . .

Let us write a holiday story, in rhyme. Topic: the much-anticipated October trip to ye olde P.P.

pumpkin/bumpkin/lumpkin        patch/catch/thatch     pick/kick/lick

Er, this isn’t rolling so trippingly off the tongue. Lucky you, Bookseedstudio readers. I asked poet, picture book author & pumpkin patch queen Patricia Toht to join us for Poetry Friday:

“Pick a pumpkin

from the patch

tall and lean

or short and fat”

c. Patricia Toht c. JARVIS
PICK A PUMPKIN

“Vivid orange

ghostly white

or speckled green

might be just right.”

c. Patricia Toht, all right reserved.

c. Patricia Toht
c. JARVIS
PICK A PUMPKIN

Her prancing pumpkin verses romp in a new picture book stuffed with the fall fun of finding a unique vegetable FRUIT. And the sly illustrations (from artist Jarvis, in a second holiday party with Patty after PICK A PINE TREE, both from Walker Books ) are drool-worthy. So, I just had to grill this author:

Q/Bookseedstudio – Will you tell of Halloween costumes you’ve enjoyed wearing – at any age? With your & your hubby’s background did you ever create costumes? What were they like?

PATRICIA TOHT My folks never allowed store-bought costumes, so ours were either sewn by mom or pulled together from the dress-up bin. When I was in middle school, my best friends and I dressed up as three blind mice and a black cat. Random, but we loved it!

My husband has made some amazing costumes for our kids. One year, our son Will went as a garbage can. Straps held the can at shoulder height, “garbage” scraps were hot glued around the edges, and my son wore a pizza box on his head. If he stopped and scrunched down, no one knew it was a costume and not an actual garbage can!

Q/Our family knocks on the Toht Family door at Halloween. What’s in the candy bowl? Is the carved pumpkin scary or goofy or ….? Decorations at the front step?

PATRICIA TOHT Our Halloween candy always includes the family favorites – Nestle Crunch bars, Mounds bars, Malted Milk Balls, and Twizzlers. The pumpkins are usually goofy ones because…well, we’re a pretty goofy family!

We have this amazing motion-detector skull and bones above our front door. When trick-or-treaters approach, it makes a spooky sound and the bones lift to either side so we can hand out candy through the middle. I love it! I hope it never breaks!

Q Other than yours, which I think will become a modern classic of pumpkin festivities, can you mention a title or two that your family enjoyed at Halloween when the kids were young?

PATRICIA TOHT Aw, thanks for saying that, Jan! A few of our family favorites include THE LITTLE OLD LADY WHO WAS NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING by Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd, BORIS AND BELLA by Carolyn Crimi and Gris Grimly, and ROOM ON THE BROOM by Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler. Great books for reading aloud!

Bookseedstudio says: Wonderful selections! Among my favorite Halloween titles I now have yours.  I have often shared these beloveds: Lisa Desimini’s TRICK OR TREAT! SMELL MY FEET, Kathi Appelt’s & Melissa Stewart’s BAT JAMBOREE & a surprise animal for Halloween pages in TRICK-OR TREAT OLD ARMADILLO, from Larry Dane Brimner with art by Dominic Catalano.

Thank you for this lively peek inside your family Halloween traditions, Patty. That garbage can get-up sounds super!

Below, I send everyone away with my best pumpkin pudding (chocolate-pumpkin pudding. . . 🙂 from hot, humid Florida, in lieu of pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies & pumpkin pie. But first . . .

More on author Patricia Toht

How did Patty get into children’s books? Invoices, orders, returns. She created, owned and operated her very own kid lit bookstore. This Never Never Land, in the Chicago region, brought a full calendar of back-to-school, holiday, summer vacation & other story times. Not to mention boxed crates of children’s non-fiction, chapter books, classics, novels, poetry collections, picture storybooks and yes – rhyming picture books.

At one playful point – Jumpin’ Jacks!- Patty added to her sales floor, shiny, fluffy, bouncy, moving products from a closing toy store. After keeping her Never Never Land venture hopping for s e v e n years, change came. The intrusion of big box competitors prompted a shuttering of the Land.  Sniff, sniff.

But, no worries. The play side of the store brought a toy designer into her life, Mr. Toht, the Toht Family’s four wonderful children followed along with a decade of fun living near a real British palace in the UK, while Patty’s husband created and produced in kids’ TV, before returning to the USA. Patty’s hubby has designed such darlings as Lamaze baby toys and kid give-aways for fast-food emporiums. Guess whose kids posed as testers?

Beyond this, I know from Patty’s guidance and support to me with my works, via our mutual online space, Group Blog, this author is like us within Poetry Friday; she is a reading, writing & editing pal who cares deeply about creating the best books for children. And she creates just that.

Here is what Kirkus says about PICK A PUMPKIN, brand-new this season:

“The nearly flawless rhythm of the text is a pleasure to read and will likely become a favorite…Enchanting.”

Author Patricia Toht   

JARVIS, artist 

PICK A PUMPKIN at Alphabet Soup!

Group Blog

What is Poetry Friday?   

I am a recipe renegade, so add ingredients into blender in amounts you think are good. Taste after the big swirl. Adjust flavors. CHILL!

 

…enroute to chocolate-pumpkin pudding bliss . . .

 

( I am posting early due to some important family events at Poetry Friday time. I appreciate your comments & may be delayed a bit in adding them.)

Update:  7 Oct 2019  Groovy photo – Patty’s PICK A PUMPKIN featured on the Halloween table at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cleveland. I was occupied with kidney surgery routine check ups & first-time thyroid tests last week- dear friends, all is well!! My joy was amplified when after that squee! news, ambling around the Cleveland Clinic campus, I was wowed by surprise – a stand-up book party with my talented pal prominent. (See who in the book world keeps Patricia Toht company?  🙂

Blue skies over Bulgaria

all images & words copyrighted, all rights reserved ©JanGodownAnnino 

[Poetry Friday is collected at dear Laura’s WRITING THE WORLD FOR CHILDREN. Go, visit!} 

Not as depicted in fairy tales 

JGAnnino

I step down along

narrow paved lane

truly a steep slope,

foothill of the Teteven Balkans

 

 a beauty blue, summer blue,

postcard blue sky is my roof

it deserves a salute, but eyes rivet

down at the footing 

less I twist ankle, break bone

5,600 miles away from home

 

and so moving shadow over the land

alerts me

 I stop, arch neck up

behold!

 air-floated leviathan

of grace and strength

 

lone

feathered giant

creature soaring in a million

child stories

 thrill of a glorious day, I whisper

-keep winging on your elegant way-

 

wild wild wild stork

flies free without baby bundle

©JanGodownAnnino

c.2019PetarTodorov, Ribarista, Bulgaria

The slope-day memories are part of our short summer family adventure, not a birding trip, so the surprise made the thrill more intense. I thank my fabulous son-in-law for this memory of a magnificent bird in flight I couldn’t tear my eyes from until as glided out of site in the Balkan mountains.

It is sweet to realize that less than one month ago, we returned home from afar. We traveled  5,600 miles away, journeying in three outstanding areas of Eastern Europe’s Bulgaria. Among stepping stones of Neolithic, Byzantine, Ottoman, Thracian, Etruscan, Greek, Roman people. (I may have missed a culture or two, in there…) Our biological clocks adjusted to the 10 hours of flight differences by refueling. Always-fresh, always-local veggies, bowls of pure Bulgarian yogurt, often homemade, considered by many to be the original yogurt of the world, fresh air, exciting archeological and ancient sites and most of all, wonderful people to meet, brought lovingly to our family by marriage. Here are a few images. I could spellbind you with a day-long travelogue!

A few snaps from Beautiful Bulgaria

Something of Plovdiv, named the EU’s Cultural Capitol of 2019 – ruins of stadium entrance, open air-three-story theater, Jewish temple menorah under reconstruction. The Cyrillic alphabet is a compelling cipher to me. My first-ever Arabic mosque minaret in an Arab region.

c.2019 Plovdiv at night, stadium entrance tunnel

 

 

c.2019 Plovdiv three-story open-air theater.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

c.2019 Plovdiv ancient Jewish menorah floor tile under reconstruction

c.2019 Reading cryllic.

c.2019 Plovdiv Mosque minaret.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something of Sophia – We felt as if we stepped into a scene from The Nutcracker Suite. Often the alphabet is translated. We sought out houses of worship and were pleased to be allowed past security, to experience the lovely Sophia Jewish Temple. We always looked for the national flower – roses – here, outside the 700 AD Christian Orthodox Church.  The underground village of Serdica is yielding its stories, while museum treasures include truly-golden pages of a 4th-5th century book and    young hairstyle I love, from a lass of ancient times. We never tired of the lovely red-tile roof views, this from our balcony at Sophia Place Hotel – glad to recommend it!  Fresh foods, including fresh-squeezed on-the-spot orange juice are the norm.

c.2019 Sophia “Nutcracker Suite”

 

c.2019 Learn “staff only” in Cryllic.

 

c.2019 Sophia Jewish Temple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

c.2019 Sophia. Young roses, old church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

c.2019 Sophia. Underground Serdica.

 

c.2019 Sophia. Gold pages,
4-5th Century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

c.2019 Sophia. Sweet Pigtails!

 

c.2019 Sophia. Mosaic of red-tile roofs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

c.2019 Sophia. Fresh O.J. available frequently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something of Rila – Ancient roadway, a monastery with architecture that is a work of art and a feeling as if I am walking into The Name of the Rose (Umberto Ecco) a favorite novel – all at the Rila Monastery at Rila Mountain.

c.2019 Rila. Ancient roadway.

c.2019 Rila. A stunning UNESCO World Heritage monastery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

c.2019 Rila. Step into my chamber…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few fun scenes of family time. With more than 1,000 images between all of us, new family included, this is but a taste…

c.2019 A circle of bread, the newly marrieds, who gets the bigger piece?

c.2019 An entire afternoon of sweet & folkloric circle dances!

c.2019 Ribarista Folk Dancers with our lovely young couple.

 

 

 

All images and words ©JanGodownAnnino, 2019, all rights reserved. 

 

Nudge

Nudge

Nudge poem by Tingyu Liu, c. 2017. photograph c.2019 JanGodownAnnino all rights reserved

The poem above, titled “a moment, ” is by Tingyu Liu. It  begins

 

“a moment

 this morning I caught

your breath beneath my ribs

and relearned how to breathe…”

 

Here is a link to the rest of the sidewalk poem, several poems along the list.

I snapped the image on a fast walk in the Boston area back in May;  poem makers are encouraged to send in their works in some communities! Yours? How about that for a nudge? Your poem on a sidewalk!

I have to ask.

Would your poem be concrete?

If your village or city offers a similar program, I’d like to know. It sounds like a form of poem-publishing (is etching on a sidewalk, publishing?) that would be wonderful to experience. I would advocate it especially for young poets.

 

I’m published!

Next time here at Bookseedstudio, I expect to have original poetry to share again. Today I do my offer original words in prose, as published under my byline in Florida’s Capitol city newspaper.

My hubby & I observe a ritual of retrieving the paper

from the end of our drive every morning.

Do you? What is it named? (The paper – but if you name your drive, say so, too!)

One in our state (Florida) was once called the Playground Daily News. 

Ours is the Tallahassee Democrat.  We love this newspaper for many reasons.

 

A big glimmer about the paper for us is that bringing it in,

to read with morning tea or coffee,

sends me schlepping outside in the morning dark to

commune with the setting moon and even to visit planets and stars.  Are you outside at those hours,

collecting a newspaper, too?

Before my book-writing days, I met deadlines at this newspaper. And it remains dear dear dear, to me.

 

Sept, 7, 2019 Tallahassee Democrat “Window on an empire” Jan Godown Annino

Sept. 7, 2019 Tallahassee Democrat Ottoman exhibit article

Goodness & Light to  Poetry Friday & Spiritual Thursday writers & readers.

 

 

 

Hurricane Dorian 2019

Hurry, it’s coming

JG Annino

 

At the grocery just

up the canopy road 

I backed away from

cart-jam

 

came home to prune

yard of potential missiles

knowing back at the store, families

wiped out beverage shelves

 

snatched up bubble waters,

the bottled fruit teas,

but at home, I brewed our London-tin tea bags

squeezed into that tangerines, from last week’s fruit bag

 

took my drink out to visit with

cherry red umbrellas

sprouted from my queen of late summer blooms

she faithfully delays her show

 

sweltering oceans

towering thunderheads

trip Hurricane Lilly’s

pop-up alarm

 

re-tinting

Dorian

gray

days

c.2019JanGodownAnnino

“Dorian Hurricane Lilly” c.2019JanGodownAnnino

Category 4 torrents bring beach-combing days, potential bright spots in fraught hurricane aftertimes. This is from Carl Sandburg’s “Sand Scribblings” collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins’ sweet THE SEA IS CALLING ME, illustrated by Walter Gaffney-Kessell, c.1986.

from “Sand Scribblings”/ Carl Sandburg

Boxes on the beach are empty.

Shake ’em and the nails loosen.

They have been somewhere.

c.Carl Sandburg

from The Sea is Calling me, poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Walter Gaffney-Kessell, c. 1986.

Carl Sandburg in “THE SEA IS CALLING ME, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Walter Gaffney-Kessell, 1986.

update of Aug. 23, 2019 “About Lee Bennett Hopkins” tribute, SIDE BY SIDE will be mailed out with pleasure to Linda M. & Amy LV.

 

 

 

 

August 2019

image c.1986 Walter Gaffney-Kessell, The Sea is Calling Me

On an August Day 

by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Ocean waves rush in

just in time

to give the shore-brids’

hot burning legs

a cool, cool bath.

c. 1986 Lee Bennett Hopkins

from THE SEA IS CALLING ME

poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins with illustrations by Walter Gaffney-Kessel

Bookseedstudio mentioned this book previously, here. And so my heart found these lines, thinking of our dear LBH:

On an August Day

It was time to 

sing

the last

line

c. 2019JanGodownAnnino

 

About Lee Bennett Hopkins

23 August 2019 #DearOneLBH

“I don’t know why you say good-bye I say hello” *

from RAGGED SHADOWS c. 1983 Lee Bennett Hopkins c. 1983 Giles Laroche

You will find no better thoughts about literary lion

LEE BENNETT HOPKINS than from my dear colleagues who include:

 POEM FARM – Amy

1 NO WATER RIVER – Renee

2 NO WATER RIVER – Renee    

 LIFE ON THE DECKLE EDGE – Robyn

TODAY’s LITTLE DITTY – Michelle

LIVE YOUR POEM – Irene

POETRY FOR CHILDREN – Sylvia

As I take in these tributes, I visit again with Lee & also, Charles Egita, Lee’s beloved partner of so many decades & spouse since 2014. So today in saying good-bye to Lee, I also say hello.

(*c. Paul McCartney, all rights reserved.)

Thank you for hosting this celebration of his life, Amy Ludwig Vanderwater – a Dear One beloved by Lee, her long-time mentor. All, please return if you have time, to read comments & find more links.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES, a Book of Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Renee Flower & dedicated
“for Rebecca Davis who supplies me with enthusiasm.”
published 1996, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

I have indulged sorrow by re-reading every of the 15 books of Lee’s, that I gathered here at home from shelves & desks & bedside & placed on a soft green chair.  The clutch is only a mere patch of the 120 or so books #DearOneLBH is credited with, including his three novels.

 

 

I run my fingers  over his autographs. I play with the light-bright poems he selected. I sigh with the poignant ones in his poem autobiography of difficult New Jersey days, which leaves me inspired with his child pledge -to grow up to be a writer. 

I don’t need a tissue during my putting this together, until I open up a book I have gifted multiple times (some to teachers, with his autograph.) It is SIDE BY SIDE, Poems to Read Together, illustrated by children’s illustrator literary lion Hilary Knight. As is often my habit, I begin at the back. And I find what I had forgot. A barefoot boy of about seven or eight who can only represent Lee, as illustrated by Knight, greets me. Lee sits beneath a bare limbed tree. A brown bird peers down at him and a dragonfly  perches on his pencil which is clamped by his teeth.

This gives me the giggles.  “Hi, little Lee,” I say. Above his image, Lee says:

“Among my fondest

memories are the times my

grandmother recited, from

memory, some wonderful

poems her mother had read

to her. Many of these same

verses are here in Side by

Side. It shows that good

poetry lasts forever! Thanks

grandma.”

 

Lee shares a Truth; He will last for us forever through his poems & anthologies & if you know him, through experiences  I feel you will want to find this volume, if you don’t have it so you can pretend, as I did, that Lee is reading with you, side by side. I have an extra to give; will select in random, from comments. 

When I came late to Charles Egita’s kind social media news of his loss of his beloved, Lee’s passing on 8 August, (I learned 18 August) I was glad my husband was handy that Sunday because in my shock came waterworks. He held me a long time until I was ready to not be held. Preparing for today, in paging back-to-front through SIDE BY SIDE (the way I often read poem books) when I came forward to page 21, my lip trembled; another cry.  Paolo was at work. I dried my tears and began notes for this post. Never before had I read Jane Yolen’s poem from this page in this new light of loss Her page is anchored by Knight’s Grandpa bear  (to me, the big bear is Lee) in a rocking chair. Here is is from page 21, SIDE BY SIDE:

“Grandpa Bear’s Lullaby

by Jane Yolen

 

The night is long

But fur is deep.

You will be warm

in winter sleep.

 

The food is gone

But dreams are sweet

And they will be

Your winter meat.

 

The cave is dark

But dreams are bright

And they will serve

As Winter light.

 

Sleep my little cubs, sleep.

c.Jane Yolen,all right reserved

 

If you know of Lee & Jane, you know that they were decades-long dear colleagues & close close friends. Only the genius who is Jane could have been unknowingly prescient in her poem selected by Lee.

Lee Bennett Hopkins, Orlando, SCBWI, 2015

c.1988HilaryKnight
SIDE BY SIDE
detail, page 80
allrightsreserved

What is on Little Lee’s notebook?

It reads “Munching Peaches  S c r a n t o n Pa ’48”

{c. 1988 Lee Bennett Hopkins & c. 1988 Hilary Knight SIDE BY SIDE.]

Please remember to visit Amy’s POEM FARM for her gathering of a wide array of published book industry & personal tributes to #DearOneLBH. This attention will make its mark if more poetry anthologies are read, more youngest writers are encouraged to set down their poem words. Finally, I am appreciative of Linda Bernfield & her SCBWI Orlando 2015 crew, for creating the event where Lee & I are laughing (above.) And here at Bookseedstudio, I’ve mentioned #DearOneLBH over the years, such as here & also, this. 

Summer shorts

SUMMER SHORTS

Today’s Poetry Friday hoopla is parked at A WORD EDGEWISE, the creation of Poetry Friday public school teaching librarian-poet, Linda Mitchell.

~~~~

Logbook*/ Recently I learned from artist/author John Hendrix to create a logbook.

Heart map/ In winter I learned from artist/author Georgia Heard to create heart maps.

Novel/ Recently I sent to an esteemed big city book editor, my first verse novel, completing a promise I made in 2015 to a man now my dear friend, to memorialize his year-long Holocaust escape as a 6-year-old Jewish boy,  often hiding in plain view from Nazi soldiers. It is 44 poems on 50 pages, for Middle Grade. From this work:

“funny black hat Un nouveau beret!/ messy charcoal stick Entre un artiste!/ really really really stomp on grapes? Oui! Fouler les raisins!” c.JanGodownAnnino

Poem swap/ Recently I created a poem “The Glory Season” inspired by reading Thomas Lux (thanks to writing partner M.R. Street/TurtleCovePress) to send out as part of author/poet/educator Tabatha Yeatt’s  organized joy called Summer Poetry Swap. My first time on this picnic!

Young Authors  In recent weeks (enough with the recently already!) I was honored to be an invited teaching author at a local school’s Young Authors Conference. It is guided by debut author of DHALIA in BLOOM Susan Koehler, who is on the right.

Debut author Susan Koehler (far right.) Yellow pants on the left is me.

Appreciations for your time reading here, your comments & for the everlasting joy, nourishment & love that is Poetry Friday.     Happy Summer!

c. 2019JanGodownAnnino