APRIL is the coolest month – 2015 National Poetry Month unfurls!

April joy to readers, writers & everyone in between. It is poetry month!

I expect to ring-a-ding the poem gong here & sprinkle morsels of poem
nourishment through some of the days.

Roz Chast poster

Roz Chast Poster

First up, I suggest that you gaze at the National Poetry Month Poster
by our World’s one-and-only Roz Chast, including an interpretation of her clever thoughts in
a most unusual poetry medium over at Jama’s Alphabet Soup,
the tastiest poetry blog I’ve ever munched upon.

This is the National Poetry Month Poster, but not in the unusual medium. Go see Jama’s Alphabet Soup – scroll past this

wonderful poster version to see what I had no eyedeer was a poetry possibility.
ca1aa5e9-3861-4c6a-bd58-83cb427685bd_zpsyl6oxaun

© Roz Chast/ 2015 National Poetry Month Poster

And to keep my NPM days straight, I’ll be returning to this flavorful
round up of Poetry Friday writers who expect to measure their month in dayspoons of poetry, this menu also by the same, Jama.

Back at the oak branch

Here in North Florida, I let the teensy wild violet blooms that unfurled under the giant

matriarch live oak tree fade into ground without tasting one. I counted 12 scattered plants at the purplest

of petal times & I wanted to always see their color in the yard so I didn’t nibble. Next year…

The wild violet plants still give us growing, apple green, funneled leaves where the tender blossoms were just a week ago, the two Myer Lemon trees bubbled out with tight buds that are bursting every day into fragrant splayed petal blossoms & I saw a honeybee feeding on them this week, & the anemic purple wisteria inched out some promising mini-grape like clusters. All of this springness adds to the allure of April & the poetry partee.

In Dog Time

Today I’m sharing opening lines from my poetry colleague Christine Poreba’s, fun poem, King of the Dance.

It is published in the UK along with two other of her poems of sweet canine lines, in  Manchester Metropolitan University’s collection, LET IN THE STARS.
from King of the Dance by Christine Poreba
My dog is King of the Dance –
the whirl, wiggle, leap
the shake and the prance.

First a wag of his tail,
then a wag of his self,
his whole body goes wag,
like a windy-day flag.”
  © Christine Poreba

Christine is an award-winning poet, a magician to those for whom English is a second language, gently helping them through the maze of perfect past tense and subjunctive whatevers & very busy with her young family, who are each of them, quite talented. I am fortunate to have her as a beta commenter on some of my fledgling poetry. Although I am a cat person and she is poetically and in practice, a devoted dog person, we are in pawfect harmony at our poetry get-togethers. I lead you to Christine’s lovely site.

p.s. the lines above are even more fun with Christine’s original formatting, which I can’t wrestle right. Must need a juicy bone!

Magic Time

Now –  the prize of this post is that April 1 is also the release day for my dear pal Adrian Fogelin’s newest novel, SOME KIND OF MAGIC. It is some kind of wonderful & I said so over where there is a contest to win it open all April – so try pleze try your luck!

A last course – a rolling tea cart tally of National Poetry Month pleasures I savor to be added now & again, insitgated by ANGIE KARCHER’s month of reading.

https://angiekarcher.wordpress.com/?s=nikki+grimes

Week 1
W/Picture Book – SWAMP SONG by Helen Ketterman, illustrated by Ponder Goembel

Poems by Christine Poreba, “How to Wake Up in Dog,” “King of the Dance,” & “Itch” published in LET IN THE STARS/ Manchester Metroplitan University/UK

TH/Picture Book – ALL BY HERSELF, by Ann Paul, illustrated by Michael Seirnagle

Poems by Ann Paul, including “Golda Mabovitch”

* F/Picture Book – THE BED BOOK, by Sylvia Plath

Poem by Janet Wong, “Coin Drive,” in POETRY ALOUD HERE! / Sylvia Vardell

SA/ Picture Book – ONE MORE SHEEP by Mij Kelly and Russell Ayto

Poem by Douglas Florian, “A Poem Can Sing,” in POETRY ALOUD HERE!/ Sylvia Vardell

SUN/ Picture Book – TERRIBLE TERESA and OTHER VERY SHORT STORIES by Mittie Cuetara

poem by Jane Yolen, “A Poem Is,” in I AM THE BOOK, poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins

I+AM+THE+BOOK+Cover

 

…………
Yikes! Adding 2 weeks in today (April 28th & I’ll be back with more, later)

Week 2
M/*Picture Book Reading – MEET DANITRA BROWN, by Nikki Grimes
Poem by Lee Bennett Hopkins, “Poetry Time,” in I AM THE BOOK, poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
TU/Picture Book Reading – LLAMA LLAMA TIME TO SHARE by Anna Dewdney, author & illustrator
poems by Lois Ehlert including, “Mosquito,” in Oodles of Animals
WED/Picture Book Reading – MY TRUCK IS STUCK by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk
poem by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, “What Was That?” in I AM THE BOOK, poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
TH/ Picture Book Reading- BUBBLE GUM, BUBBLE GUM by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
poems by Dinah Johnson, including “Sonia,” in SITTING PRETTY, A Celebration of Black Dolls, illustrated by photographer Myles C. Pinkney.
F/Picture Book Reading – THE BIG GREAT GREEN by Peggy Gifford, illustrated by Lisa Desimini
poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, “Who’s Rich?” in I AM THE BOOK, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins
SAT/ Picture Book Reading- THE PET PROJECT, by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Zacariah OHora
poem by Karla Kushkin, “Wonder Through the Pages,” in I AM THE BOOK, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins
SUN/Picture Book Reading- SAY WHAT? by Angela DiTerlizzi, illustrated by Joey Chou
poem by Alice Schertle, “Violet’s Hiking Hat” in BUTTON UP , Wrinkled Rhymes by Alice Schertle, pictures by Petra Mathers
………….

images-1
Week 3
M/ Picture Book Reading –DOG GONE! Leeza Hernandez
Poem by X.J. Kennedy “How to Stay Up Late, “ in POETRY SPEAKS TO Children, edirws by Elise Pachen
TU Picture Book Reading –HOT ROD HAMSTER by Lynthia Lord, illustrated by Derek Anderson**
Poem by Nikki Giovanni, “Knoxville, Tennessee” in POETRY SPEAKS TO CHILDREN
WED Picture Book Reading –THE JAZZ FLY by Matthew Gollub, illustrated by Karen Hanke
Poem by Kristine O’Connell George, “Snake” in FOLD ME A POEM**, illustrated by Lauren Stringer
TH/ Picture Book reading TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DAY TODAY, by Mem Fox, illustrated by Lauren Stringer***
Poem by Tony Johnston, “Sunset” in I’M GONNA TELL MAMA I WANT AN IGUANA, illustrated by Lillian Hoban
F / Picture Book Reading – SEADOGS by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Mark Siegel
Poem by Langston Hughes, “Drums” in LANGSTON HUGHES, Poetry for Young People
SAT / Picture Book Reading OODLES of ANIMALS, Lois Ehlert, author & illustrator
Poem by Arnold Adoff, “Spring Saturday Morning” in TOUCH THE POEM, illustrated by Lisa Desimini**

SUN/ DINOSAUR ROAR! by Paul & Henrietta Strickland
Poem by J. Patrick Lewis, untitled kitchen mouse poem in GOOD MOUSEKEEPING, illustrated by
Lisa Desimini
……………………………………..

If you are looking to visit the site this reading & notetaking stems from please visit ANGIE KARCHER

Week 4
Mon – Picture Book reading – THE SNOWFLAKE SISTERS by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Lisa Desimini
poem “On an August Day” by Lee Bennett Hopkins in THE SEA IS CALLING ME, selected by L.B. Hopkins/ illustrated by Walter Gaffney-Kessel.
Tues – P.B. – NOT ALL PRINCESSES DRESS in PINK by Jane Yolen & Heidi E.Y. Stemple
poem “Book Protection” anonymous, in I SAW ESAU, The Schoolchild’s Pocket Book, edited by IonMA., with pictures by Bruce Degen
poem “The Mosquito’s Song” by Peggy B. Leavitt in DIRTY LAUNDRY PILE, selected by Paul B. Janeczko & illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Thurs PETITE ROUGE, A Cajun Red Riding Hood by Mike Artell illustrated by Jim Harris
poem “Jellyfish” by Valerie Worth in ANIMAL POEMS, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Friday MARSUPIAL SUE by John Lithgow, illusrated by Jack E Davis
poem “The Coyote” by Douglas Florian in MAMMALABILIA poems & paintings by Douglas Florian
Sat MADELEINE by Ludwig Bemelmans
poem “A-Camping We Will Go,” by Kelly DiPucchio in SIPPING SPIDERS THROUGH A STRAW, Campfire Songs for Monsters with pictures by Gris Grimly
Sun BRAVE POTATOES by Toby Speed, illustrated by Barry Root
poem “Ink Drinkers” by Andrea Perry in THE SNACK SMASHER, illustrated by Alan Snow

Week 5
Mon LLAMA LLAMA MISSES MAMMA by Anna Dewdney
poem “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop (it’s a villanelle) reprinted in an excellent MG/YA collection – POETRY SPEAKS WHO I AM edited by Elise Paschen
TUES
poem “Fossils” by Jack Prelutsky in THE CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS (Camille Saint-Saens’s music) illustrated by Mary GrandPre
WED
poem “Those Crazy Crows” by Margaret Wise Brown in NIBBLE NIBBLE illustrated by Leonard Weisgard

Hobbit – Tuesday Trees

It’s hard to scratch the surface on the ferny forest of tree titles available to young readers that celebrate that most woody of Hobbit-land evoking entities.

cedar-key-christmas-tree-inside-0011

But, as someone who leafed through her chapter book pages in a dogwood tree during aboreal child days, I’ve liked planting this list.  Climb a favorite branch, if you’re in a temperate climate, & take a peek.

NUTS TO YOU text & art by Lois Ehlert

THE BUSY TREE text by Jennifer Ward, artwork by Lisa Falkenstern

CHERRY TREE text by Ruskin Bond & artwork from Allan Eitzen

PLANTING THE TREES OF KENYA – text & artwork by Claire A. Nivola

POETREES poems & artwork by Douglas Florian

THE GREAT KAPOK TREE text & artwork by Lynne Cherry

THE CURIOUS GARDEN text & artwork by Peter Brown

THE MONEY TREE text by Sarah Stewart & artwork by David Small

STUCK text & artwork by Oliver Jeffers

TREE-RING CIRCUS, text & artwork by Adam Rex

WE PLANTED a TREE text by Diane Muldrow & artwork by Bob Staake

WELCOME TO THE GREEN HOUSE text by Jane Yolen & artwork by Laura Reagan

CELEBRITREES text & by Margi Preus & artwork by Rebecca Gibbon

THIS IS THE TREE text by Miriam Moss & artwork by Adrienne Kennaway

THE OAK INSIDE THE ACORN text by Max Lucado & artwork by George Angelini

THE KISSING HAND text by Audrey Penn & artwork by Ruth Harper/Nancy Leak (because of where Chester ends up….)

LINNEA IN MONET’S GARDEN – text by Christina Bjork, artwork by Lena Anderson

thumbnail.aspx            The Giving Tree (Shel Silverstein) & The Lorax (Dr. Seuss) are two famous books for young readers about trees.

After experiencing the good fortune of spending time under and around the ethereal Lichgate Oak at this event, I visited trees in lesser-known books where trees are central to the story, or are characters, for young readers.

Some picture books listed are favorites I returned to & others are new to me & perhaps to you. I hope you’ve enjoyed this no -particular -order offering.

Imaginary acorns to those who add a title/comment.

This article is part of Bookseedstudio’s Tuesday Trees, where Jan roots for the proliferation and longevity of our saplings and also for their mature elders, even if they aren’t alders. It is inspired by our community-wide project to celebrate arbors.  

For more on the lovely fishing net tree at the top of this column, please see this previous Bookseedstudio column.

Silliness from Shel

Anyone in Florida or other coastal spaces, or inlanders yearning to return to summer beaches, may enjoy lending their ears to the punny poems by gifted artist & creative, Shel Silverstein, in Underwater Land.

Warning:

“He sole it to a loan shark” & other silliness stirs the sand.

 

And  I’m  already planning our Halloween Meal, so here is a cutely creepy Shel video poem from You Tube celebrating his ditty, Man-Eating Plant & also, a page for his Halloween poetry.

 

I’m feeling creative in notebooks & at the keyboard. A few words from Shel  about that:

                                “Put something silly in the world

                                     That ain’t been there before.”

 

And with Labor Day fresh in mind & thinking of freedom, I consider how the poet’s absurd lines create calls for censorship, from a librarian’s post on YouTube.

Here are Shel links, at the  Poets.org site & also at his publisher’s place. He was born in Illinois in 1930 and died in Florida in 1999.

 

If you are here via the good graces of splendid POETRY FRIDAY, or even if you are not, please visit this week’s talented host LAURA PURDIE SALAS, for her post & also, for links to others posting.

If you are new to Poetry Friday, when you comment at her blog,  pls. tell her Bookseedstudio sent you.

Nelson Mandela by J. Patrick Lewis

copyright KADIR NELSON

copyright KADIR NELSON

 

July 18th is a day for Mr. Nelson Mandela, who said,

 

“It is within your hands to make of our world, a better world for all.”

 

Thank you, Anastasia Suen & POETRY FRIDAY & J. Patrick Lewis.

The J. Patrick Lewis poem gives me goose bumps, especially at one line:

Nelson Mandela International Day poem by J. Patrick Lewis.

 

Here is more on Mr. Mandela, Nobel winning peace maker:

http://www.mandeladay.com/

And here is even more, from his Foundation:

http://www.nelsonmandela.org/content/page/biography

And finally, from Alicia Lewis Murray, (I don’t know if there is a Lewis-Lewis connection..)  here is a look at Mr. Mandela from the perspective of children’s books:

http://www.balancingmotherhood.com/2013/12/12/nelson-mandela-childrens-book/

The artwork here is from KADIR NELSON’s exceptional book, NELSON MANDELA as displayed with Alicia’s article.

 

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

 

Answering questions

Kathy Halsey, a retired librarian who is writing for children, wants to know:

Q: What is your writing process?

Q: What are you currently working on?

Q: And so forth.

 

all rights reserved

all rights reserved

A:

First, thank you for your career, Kathy, matching books to readers.

And thank you for your 2nd career, as a writer.

Back to the first. You likely answered ga-zillions of queries from anxious writers, seeking, for example an obscure local cookbook/history about Michigan maple sugaring via inter-library loan, from upper/lost/outer beautiful Michigan. Writers are also thankful for that. (Note to local taxpayers, support your library when it wants to continue the inter-library loan service, please.)

More  A:

WRITING PROCESS I

Here is what should be, but is not always, on hand:

Cat, to do the typing

A deadline

Good health, rested body, peaceful mind

Fair trade (no child slave labor) organic dark chocolate, early a.m. only

Guayaki yerba mate (my hubby introduced it when he returned from Argentina), also a.m. only

An idea that I think about day & night & in my dreams & during conversations about movies & while I’m eating & walking & on & on. This is crucial.

The information I find to go with that idea.

 

Look at that.  Very little, to get me going.

I write in a rainbow of genres. For children, poetry, picture story book, concept book (like ABCs) illustrated non-fiction, fiction in chapter book & middle grade. For adults, magazine pieces, chapter contributions to non-fiction books, my own travel guides, poetry, & mystery stories.

So let’s narrow the mass down to a bit about how I wrote the newest book, SHE SANG PROMISE.

And this will also help me answer the pressing question of a school librarian from Winnetka IL, about the process for writing this specific book.

My newest book is an illustrated story from the life of a Native American leader who became a national figure with her achievements, including a presidential appointment. But she primarily made headlines in her home state, Florida.

And for kids, it was important to research one of her career oddities – she wrestled alligators. In the late 1940s, before reality teevee. For very little money.

I needed:

Interviews

Local/regional/Tribe histories

A good oral history library

An understanding of events during the time span 1920s-1980s

My subject’s memoir & other publications

Old photographs/information about period clothing

Site visits to subject’s house/reservation/museums

My subject’s permission to tell her story to children (required by the publisher, but something I desire, anyhow)

Copy of her storytelling video

Details of her adult achievements

Observation of alligators & of people wrestling them

The story of her world took place significantly outdoors, so I needed notes about the flora & fauna & geography & weather of her child days.

I needed to begin lining up expert readers, to review my manuscript.

And I probably needed a few other things, which I am forgetting, here.

 

WRITING PROCESS II

When I amassed shelves & binders & paper files of materials, including my subject’s newspaper articles & columns, because she edited her tribe’s paper, I began to write.

It was clunky.

So I did what any writer does. I turned to the editor for this project.

And bless her. She sent me lovely illustrated biographies. And then she gave me titles of others, to go look up.

 

In the second group, I found one that lit a fire under me & is still a favorite, when I read it in school.

It was created by Jacqueline Briggs Martin & Mary Azarian.

I get prickles on my arm when I remember first holding the powder blue cover, fringed with snowflakes. This wood-cut-assisted beauty is one of the best picture books I know about a real, but lesser-known, individual of our planet (that is the sort of person I am drawn to write about. ) The book  is SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY, a Caldecott winner.

And that book about a boy in Vermont obsessed with snowflakes, was a portal into feeling that I could pick my way along the path of  the story of a girl who grew up in subtropical Florida, keeping all manner of wild & domestic creatures as pets in her own informal hot-climate, outdoors zoo. Very different children, geography & life paths.

But the SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY team’s excellent storytelling in words & pictures inspired me.

 

By Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Artwork by Mary Azarian

By Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Artwork by Mary Azarian

Yet, I was still not writing something to send my editor.

How to begin it ? How to begin it?

When I disliked a ga-zillion first pages, I turned to something that has always amused me since my child days when I created a little cartoon character, Beanie. And that is, doodling. And so I doodled loopy loop shapes. And then on another page, after a few shapes took shape, I dropped the pad. I was unhappy. I looked up & saw on my wall, a map of Florida. The state where my subject was from. And I picked up the pad & began to draw an outline of the state of Florida. I began in the far northwest in the Panhandle. When my thick fat dark pencil reached the southeast part of the state, words appearing from who knows where  – the stars? the swamp?  engaged my neurons: “Think of a gigantic place at the end of land…”

And that was it. I was off and running.

Because I had amassed information on aspects of the world of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, my subject, pieces of her life that would be kid magnets, I just kept on & on with the writing. Then, because I had written too much, my editor & the editor above her, helped me squeeze out duplications, of which there were umpteen-many.

O! there were many. But they got gone.

The story is told in chronological order, assisted with luscious artwork from Lisa Desimini, a letter to children from the subject’s son, and notes of further information for older children, parents, librarians & teachers.

Kirkus said: “Short poetic stanzas join jewel-toned illustrations to sing the satisfying story of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper.”

It is an American Library Association Top Ten Amelia Bloomer book (a list of titles about exemplary girls and women), it is selected by the National Council on the Social Studies &  it won the Florida Book Awards gold medal. The full title is SHE SANG PROMISE: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader.  It is part of the Accelerated Reader program & its listed on several library/history archives as a reference on Native American topics.

By Jan Godown Annino and Lisa Desimini

By Jan Godown Annino and Lisa Desimini

 

Q: What is your current project?

CURRENT PROJECT

A:  A few in the cooker. This year so far I sent several poems for children to a university publisher’s contest & also submitted to an independent publisher, a 3,400-word mystery short story for adults. Another illustrated biography that I enjoyed researching is finished, not contracted, being read. I recently had fun writing a picture book based on my revision of a children’s folksong that has cool present-day ties, & I finished poems of whimsey, on a theme, for kiddos. A third new picture book manuscript is also almost ready to send out. If any of those see a green light I will  switch off from my zippy novel-in-progress for middle grade, & revise the previous project (s). Much as I love the current story & main character set in the 1960s in Florida, I hope for the temporary interruption via the working with-an-editor phase, of one of the “finished” pieces.

Thanks so very much for these Qs Kathy. And good luck with your contributions to the mighty fine new blog, GROG.