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



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


About Animals 8


Thank the Franciscan order for its naming of the Capuchin friars.

The friars lent that name to a monkey, supposedly for the resemblance.

This connection escapes me but then after eerie, hungry nights out of place in the South American jungle, perhaps the friars, encountering skinny monkeys, fancied there was a resemblance?

Capuchins are involved in a national program of providing assistance to humans who have physical disabilites, brought on by spinal cord injuries and other maladies, often associated with military service and specifically in years of late, war.

Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled

is a Boston based non-profit that cares for and trains Capuchins to provide a bunch of help. The skinny simians turn on a client’s computer, bring them a glass of juice and can serve food. The Capuchins are taught to avoid the kitchen stovetop, open windowsills and other zones in an apartment or house, that could present danger for a monkey.  They are also trained to eliminate their waste in a certain site, similar to cat potty-training.

 Some amazing Capuchin-helper stories are told at this site. Some of the partnerships have lasted 20 years.  Training of a monkey, in foster homes, takes from three to five years. Care and training of one monkey up to the placement time can cost $37,000.  Donations are accepted by this nonprofit via the website and also: 541 Cambridge St. Boston, MA 01234. 

You can watch a video of some of the training at this website.  In Boston, the actual physical site offers scheduled visits at the Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation Center, operated out of a rennovated church building.  Other Helping Hands interpretation takes place at the unusual Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts.

While monkeys clearly belong in the wild,  Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled, proves that carefully cared for and trained monkeys can perform an unfathomable assist to certain individuals, providing a measure of independence for the physically limited.

As for discarded Capuchins that have not been trained from birth to care for the disabled, fortunately there are retirement shelters to assit them when they are too much for their humans to handle. Once such site in Florida is the Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary

24/7 the Sanctuary deals witn inappropriately housed New World primates (not just Capuchin) monkeys who bit in a home setting or otherwise could no longer be kept as an exotic pet. This is, not surprisingly, an unsuitable life pursuit for such a clever creature from the South American aboreal forest. Wishing to seem exotic, interesting, or animal-loving is what may motivate clueless folks to buy a monkey for a pet. But what happens next when the huge mistake is painfully discovered. Fortunate cast offs  end up here. 

~ Usually after driving the (former) exotic pet owner bananas. ~