books to love from Kathryn Erskine, Georgia Heard & Irene Latham

My Thoughts Are Clouds is the poetry collection that cozies up to my heart this summer more than other beauties I cherish. Whatever a temporal worry – health, family, climate, political,societal –  anxiety fades within the pages of Clouds, byGeorgia Heard with art fromIsabel Roxas.

A flower doesn’t need to count up the raindrops it sips

add up the number of bees tickling its petals’

 lines of Georgia Heard from My Thoughts Are Clouds, Poems for Mindfulness:

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine raises her own author bar with each book. She is known for criss-crossing oceans to lunch with children and listen to the stories of their lives, worldwide, with sensitivity and kindness thru all her years – child and adult days. Her uni-verse (one song) perspective seamlessly weaves wonderful results in a domestic USA school story where bullying invites timid new pals to stand up for The Good. I especially love the way we see how the beautiful variety of cultures is nourished in  some schools, in this case a public school. Lily’s Promise is a peace-bringer.

“Algebra began in Babylon, which is modern-day Iraq!” from Lily’s Promise by Kathryn Erskine.

I nominate this author and this book for the Jane Addams Peace Prize, if the committee is listening.

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Do you want a page-turning doorstopper delight? D-39 A Robo Dog’s Journey is told in free verse by the always inventive Irene Latham. I bought it because I love Irene’s themes and words in books such as Dictionary for a Better World (with Charles Waters.) and Cat Man of Aleppo (last year’s Caldecott winner.) I can’t remember the last time a dystopian novel held me. Maybe never. I’m converted to this dystopian. It’s a father-daughter journey with heart tugs. It’s also an unexpected tale of an older girl protecting a younger kid, who’s not part of her birth family. And there is an unusual dog tale. And lots of gizmos and gadgets. And underground nooks & crannies the characters explore with us.

Here’s opening lines ©Irene Latham in D-39 A Robo-Dog’s Journey

“Hey Hi Ho There

/It’s me, Klynt Tovis, coming to you live/  from a looganut farm in the Worselands.I click the button on the ham, ears alert/ for a reply. I’m not supposed to talk to/ strangers, even on an old ham radio-/ unlicensed broadcasts are against the law. “

In fact, as I type this, seeing D-39 scenes in my mind’s eye, I feel D-39 would look brilliant on the screen, like a Hugo meets Up.Or something like that. Did I mention the brilliant glossary of the tale’s inventive words? A favorite O’ mine is *jinglesnap* but I know you will select (and want to create) your own.

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As with the best kids’ books, these three shared here will please a caring adult. I’m lucky to know these brilliant and sensitive authors through workshops and in the case of Irene, also via Southern Breeze/ SCBWI.

SCBWI

https://southern-breeze.scbwi.org

Georgia Heard                             Isabel Roxas

https://www.georgiaheard.com       https://studioroxas.com/about

Kathryn Erskine

https://www.kathyerskine.com

Irene Latham

https://www.irenelatham.com

Bookseedstudio is happy to be part of the #PoetryFriday community. For an unusual take on Wakulla Springs at Tallahassee, please see Laura Shovan’s poetry post. She is also this times 4th of July weekend host. Appreciations to Laura, whose poem about an overlooked Hollywood studio artist has won recognition!

Read a poem every day. Help a child memorize one for Life.

And if you like poetry, literature & mindfulness caring about our Uni-Verse, consider looking at this new blog on WordPress by two wise ones I know through #PoetryFriday – MaryLee & Franki – who I found here on WordPress at A(other) Year of Reading ::: https://ayearofreading.org/blog Yay !for the next 15+ years of blogging to them.

FRESH FISH art & poetry

A watery & welcome distraction arrived Jan. 7th’s nite, in email. Allow me to share this cover of a new art & poetry collection I’m pleased to be associated with.

Cover Artists: Jerri Penney, Sally Maxwell, Michele Dowdel, Gabriele DiTota, Diana Bennet

If you love visiting a salt coast, or have a friend who is enchanted by a sea urchin, squid, starfish, seahorse and others of the sandy depths, please consider buying this gift book, a non-profit project of the international Studio Art Quilt Association

The accomplished artists featured in FRESH FISH enjoy layering their works in hand or machine stitching or a combo. Some textile artists begin a creation with blank fabric or even papers, and then add dye, paint, embellishment, printmaking technique, drawing, photo transfer, embroidery, beading or buttons, among the many features of fine art quilting. Some pieces are collages or assemblages. I’m thrilled my poem in this juried art collection, “Fish Fandangle” is paired with the talented visual artist Maggie Vanderweit. 

While poets write about an individual work of art in what we call ekphrastic poetry, inspired after spending time with a sculpture, painting or other work of visual art, we weren’t writing poetry in that method. The process here followed a serendipitous difference to create an undersea world of joy. Literary & visual artists arrived separately at their contributions ~ working from the same sea theme ~ an unexpected process I found organic, scary & a bit magical. I hope you do, also. The 90-page book features 97 works of visual art & 39 selected poems. Although I haven’t yet held the book in my hands, my understanding is that it’s a book for both adults and school students who are enraptured by encountering all sorts of life in the sea. (Mermaid alert!) And, it’s especially for readers whose eyes love to linger over textile arts.

Until Feb. 1, FRESH FISH can be purchased & shipped postage-paid via the Studio Art Quilt Association, through this link. After, it can be found at a different price on Amazon. I’m eager to put up another post on this book at a later date, when I expect to share colleagues’ poetry from it, with a line or two of mine. But of course, I hope you will be holding the poems in your own hands.

:::: Peaceful wishes for you at this fraught time. This poetry post is part of the informal & nourishing Poetry Friday community. The first week of the new year Ruth hosted Poetry Friday & now Sylvia handles collecting us this current week with a wonderful list of poetry books to be published for young readers in 2021. The following two Fridays, we travel with Margaret & then with Laura. On the last Friday of this new month of the new year 2021, we return here to Bookseedstudio.

Winter Solstice 2020

C. DAVPILKEY, illuminating Richard Blanco’s poem, ONE TODAY.

On night walks a sense of comforting smallness seeps into my soul. The Northern Hemisphere’s Dec. 21, 2020 extra longest-night shift of a super Saturn and meteor show, is a phenom noted by Florida’s Bishop Planetarium and Scientific American.

Headlines call for head’s up

See it seep out in south direction following crimped daylight of quickest sunset

Overhead, find deep field with no fence, a cyclorama banner 

Constellation-watcher or wayward wanderer can each behold quiet radiance.

 

Saturn, meet Jupiter, meet Saturn.

 

Find steady Polaris, North Star, Star of Judea, prick sky fabric

as key spree of Winter Solstice 2020.

poem “Headlines call for head’s up” © JGAnnino

It’s a calm world that visits in Richard Blanco’s love-to-all poem titled ONE TODAY, as interpreted in stunning sky-present scenes by children’s author/illustrator Dav Pilkey. This poet and artist created a beautiful book for any season but this week it feels especially like a hug, if you want it:

A Place at the Table

Poetry Friday is danced this week by the always creative LINDA B. Last week we visited Janice at Salt City Verse. Go, travel! And I’ve got a Q for you, if you can stay to The End. Appreciations.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::I reached for Karla Kushkin’s SO WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE A CAT? illustrated by Betsy Lewin and out fell Mary O’Neill, next door to it I know not why, but quite providentially, Mary fell open to her John Wallner illustrated poem, “BLACK.”

“Black is kind~ it covers up The rundown street The broken cup. Black is charcoal. And patio grill.~~ Black is beauty In its deepest form~~ Think of what starlight And lamplight would lack Diamonds and fireflies If they couldn’t lean against Black.”​

excerpts from HAILSTONES and HALIBUT BONES by Mary O’Neill and John Wallner. (with apologies for lack of line breaks)

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::Recently in this nourishing Poetry Friday community I was grateful to read in a comment to a post, wise words from Mary Lee Hahn about her sensitivity to students whose families don’t celebrate & are possibly uncomfortable with, Halloween. So her thought brought me to share today (of all days!) about a MG new novel, A PLACE AT THE TABLE by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan.

This is the third LS novel I have read & loved but I’m grateful Laura teams here with an equally vibrant, but new-to-me author, Saadia Faruqi. If you want to read and recommend a lovely friendship book set in the Season of Autumn, I hope you will consider A PLACE AT THE TABLE. I bought my copy independently.

WHO WILL TAKE THIS TO HEART ~~ Cooking school fans, recipe creators, community festival-goers, fans of girl friendship stories, Pakistani-Americans, ex-pat Brits, Jewish families, readers with family members or friends who may have depression or non-conformist grandmas, and, especially anyone needing to understand much better than they do (such as me) about the path Muslim students in Western society neighborhoods and schools may travel.

FAVORITE QUOTES ~~From Sara: “I envy my brothers. They feel no shame in being Muslim. They’re too young to appreciate, how different they are from their classmates.” From Elizabeth: ” When the congregation sings my favorite prayer, Ma Tovu, Dad rocks back and forth on his loafers. The melody is sad, but hearing it fills me with hope. I love the line about the temple being a place of glory. I look out the windows. The autumn leaves are more beautiful than stained glass.”

IN SHORT ~~ Their missteps smoothed, dutiful daughters of very different families that each have their own daily home stresses, grow organically into close pals despite their religious divide, which in the end, isn’t a wall at all. My heart tugged. Appreciations to the authors for creating this collaboration, which should be much-noted and appreciated.

Anousha Syed created the lovely cover illustration.

SAADIA FARUQI. (who, it turns out, sometimes has Florida on her mind 🙂 Hope to read more of your words. Congratulations, Saadia!

LAURA SHOVAN Congratulations on another literary treat, dear Laura!

You are invited to Send a Q or commeent about Halloween to Saadia or Laura via Instagram today (Oct. 30, 2020)

From Laura: Today, 5 pm EST! Chat with me and @saadiafaruqi about Halloween. This American tradition is an important chapter in our book, #aplaceatthetable. Does your family go all out or lights out for Halloween.”

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::My Q. Know a source of groovy doodle and writing daily prompts? I expect distraction more than usual in November but I’m feeling a lift about the idea of something-a-day. Like INKTOBER? Maybe something like NAPOWRIMO, but in November?What prompts look lively, to you (even if you don’t do them.) Thanks a bunch.

#NikkiGrimes

A humid Florida hey there weary travelers, from this Bookseedstudio patch of Poetry Friday. We PF bffs are collected this week via Live Your Poem by honorary Floridian & groovy poet Irene Latham. To know more about friday poet pals, please visit No Water River & Kitditosphere, at this article’s end, where I’ve linked.

"Flower Face" by Jan Godown Annino.

“Flower Face for Nikki Grimes” from June. 2020 miniature zinnias/ Bookseedstudio.

I think of gardens when I think of NIKKI GRIMES, “poet, photographer, artist & avid gardener,” as she describes herself. In addition to the shelves of literary & publishing success honors that this poet has earned, I feel that everyday, Nikki Grimes deserves armloads and cascading gardens of all kinds of flowers,  baskets of fresh herbs and roaming vines of fresh veggies. In her decades and decades of work in crafting exquisite books, she has helped young readers, especially those whose skin color is similar to hers, feel someone understands their rocky road. But please know that she is a writer for all. Her words nurture all children & many adults, to bloom into their full potential. Start with WORDS WITH WINGS, a title that I connect with deeply. In 2015, I included it in a Bookseedstudio blog here.

 

An early self-bloomer, despite finding little fertilizer & too much rocky ground in earliest years, young Nikki created poems and art before the age of 10, living in bleak circumstances. She always desired to create beautiful things. She remembers making poems from age six!

C..2019allrightsreserved/JGA
heirloom rose plant adopted from Goodwood Gardens/Florida

Nikki Grimes is outspoken in her commentary on our world’s marginalization of books   created by writers of color and about the sidelining of books about families and children of color. Consider how infrequently these good resources are brought up in class, outside of a specific anniversary, celebratory day or month. Nikki Grimes has.

Listening to Nikki Grimes at the Reading Rockets’ interview linked in the paragraph above, says to me that from the first day of school, children should be reading stories where not all the children are white. And in fact, it is right that all children read bright stories where most of the kids in the room, at the park, are not white. Stories on making new friends, losing shyness in class, managing seats on the bus, events at the fair, camping adventures, discoveries at a museum, should cover all children. Consider also how often a book about a topic on people of color or other marginalized people who aren’t people of color (and this does include people who are American Indians/Native Americans) is a sad book, a book about a difficult topic. Most children still grow up unaware of the exceptional, trail-blazing healers, scientists, thinkers, discoverers & others, who are people of color. The general public only in recent years learned of the brilliant work of black women in the U.S. space race program, dedicated mathematicians, cruelly marginalized, while proving exceptional crucial brainpower to the United States mission. People in Florida, home of NASA, should be especially sensitive to knowing & teaching this story, told in HIDDEN FIGURES, the great picture book that was sold for a movie, created for all ages.

OK. I’ve stepped a bit off-topic. But that too, may be a key part of the Nikki Grimes story, as when you read more Nikki Grimes’ books or follow her life story you may tend to step off-path, too. This poet’s child days truth is told in the enormously potent ORDINARY HAZARDS. As a young girl she endured, she survived, through serial, multiple, unhappy home & school settings. There was violence. Out on Mean Streets, she did defend herself. This makes the exquisite beauty that Nikki Grimes delivers in the poems she crafts & also in her images in photographs and paintings, all the more compelling. Step into her visual art gallery.

Nikki Grimes at Pennsylvania Center for the Book

Poet Nikki Grimes at Pennsylvania Center for the Book

Author appearances with new books are altered in #healthierathome times. But meet the inspiring Nikki Grimes at her home’s Nikki Grimes You Tube Channel, Try a poetry prompt there or learn how lists are important to her creative process. You can also catch up with an April 2020  visit some of us checked into at the Highlights Foundation #HFGather. Subscribe to her newsletter, read her blog & other pages at her website & follow along on twitter. As you dwell among her works and learn more of her life, you may discern that two of Nikki Grimes’ themes are Faith & perseverance. For ideas on Faith look to her book, THE WATCHER, inspired by Psalm 121 or sit in the pew, COME SUNDAY. For life as a creator who keeps on keepin’ on, look to her generous sharing about bumps in path to finding a publisher for her exceptionally successful book, A POCKETFUL OF POEMS. She also shines a generous spotlight on other creators, as she does in this interview she conducted with POEMS IN THE ATTIC artist, Elizabeth Zunon. I beam thanks to Michelle Barnes, who met Nikki Grimes at a library event in Florida, for tipping me off to the N.G. Elizabeth Zunon Q/A.

Notes from Nikki is bright with her tenderly cultivated blooms, cultivated words, & with creative re-imaginings of her recycled paper projects & news of her deep connections with students around the globe. When you find one of her books out there in the world, let her know, for this newsletter!

Nikki Grimes Books Generally Available Now

April 2020 Highlights Foundation #HFGather visit

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I appreciate poet Irene Latham for gathering us this week via Live your Poem, in the Kidlitosphere, explained so well by poet & educator Renee LaTulippe at No Water River.

Peace to you, especially in troubled times.

Peace flowers abloom at the Bookseedstudio patio 6/2020.

Peace flowers arranged, inspired by Nikki Grimes calla lilly artwork at her gallery

Flowers arranged – 6/2020, inspired by Nikki Grimes’ paintings at her gallery: https://www.nikkigrimes.com/grimesgallery/grimesgallery.php