#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

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

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

 

#KidLit4BlackLives #TheBrownBookshelf

A heart-lifting moment in recent conversations on race & how to counter racism in this beautiful USA, is the community children’s literature coming-together, of June 4th, 2020.

It collected under the banner #KidLit4BlackLives & I heard about it through #TheBrownBookshelf, my guide for 13 years, to fabulous books I might otherwise not have known about & some titles I was already seeking.

Jackie Woodson warmly welcomed us to the table, hosted by Kwame Alexander. But the best thing about it is that so many soon-to-be luminaries were invited onboard with now-famous, once-unknown, contemporary, award-winning children’s-book creators of color. I especially enjoyed meeting a 9-year-old future leader, zooming in from overseas. Correction: Leader. Period.

It’s exciting to see thousands of publishers, editors, educators, parents & creators of books for young people, listening/learning from an evening of vivid voices that are predominantly from people of color. We all pledged to learn more, learn harder, learn better, about what our community needs to do to improve.

Following the event, which he attended, graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang shared this thoughtful instagram conversation with a beloved esteemed educator who was 10 during the 1967-68 riots in the USA, which led to the Kerner Commission. (divot to the right, to flip to each page.) Educator Tony Green believes that the country needs a national commission that has broad ethnic representation (unlike the all-white, male Kerner Commission) to create implementable provisions that will move the USA forward in the wake of a shameful litany of black lives lost after an incident with police. That is one part of a larger racial issue, which involves food deserts, poverty, imprisonment and health care access. I would like to see this country’s Native American/American Indian population included in this national discussion.

I loved how Ms. Woodson, whose BROWN GIRL DREAMING, is a favorite of mine, asked everyone to speak out when a racist remark is heard, when it comes directly to you from your uncle who is a wizard at guitar-playing, or the friendly neighbor who grows sweet cherry tomatoes two streets over. “That’s not kind,” is a starter, before walking  away. “I don’t feel good being around thoughts like that.” Doesn’t have to be a long lecture. Shouldn’t be. Jerry Craft knew how to get a conversation going in many families, such as in Florida, where I live. He said to share how, “Save the Whales doesn’t mean that dolphins don’t deserve to live. Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean that ALL Lives don’t matter.”

The evening was awash in appreciation for people regardless of their skin, the quality of their home, their unemployment status or the labels on their clothing. More kindness, more thinking before speaking, more interest in people of color all through the year, and not just at a significant anniversary of birth or death, or a standard celebration time, or month, is a step toward shedding racism.

Appreciations to author Joanne Fritz for this fb page grab.

To revisit these speakers, make time for the recorded event. Above, find & follow #TheBrownBookshelf link, which also includes a rich list of resources.

Appreciations to political cartoonist Nathan Archer, Florida chair of the National Cartoonists Association, for this #BlackLivesMatter 6/2020 image shared on his fb page.

#ShelterInPoetry – Home front: Covid-19 times

Home front:  Covid-19 times.
Collected by Heidi Mordhorst #PoetryFriday for today’s #ShelterinPoetry
IMG_3534
When I collect the plastic bag at the end of the drive, wearing a
plastic bag on my hand, and after I shake the daily news out of
said bag, I head straight for the important stuff. The funnies.
Sadly, few see funnies every day, these days. Have some here:
copyright 2020 Shakespeare on the Sound

copyright 2020 Shakespeare on the Sound http://www.shakespeareonthesound.org T.Y. to Michelle H. Barnes, for alerting me to this at your fb. page, shared by Stephen Burdman.)

::::
Do you find joy from other artists such as poets, singer-songwriters.
I’m going now, back outside. Not way out in the world, but where I treasure
our luxury –  small, green, and growing yard. I follow shade in day. Find bright
Venus in the west at night. Soon it will be too Florida-hot to work outside.
0-1
Wings
Jan Godown Annino
Circus colors
clown faces
overeaters anonymous
you mesmerize me
a tent trick in my yard
leaf disappears into
chubby caterpillar
overnight, oval jewel
shelters crawly bug
morphing
to
paper flapper
a prayer that
no windshield
meets
your orange wings
as we hope
no Covid-19
wall crushes our
wings
C.2020JanGodownAnnino,allrightsreserved
IMG_3631 2.jpeg
O for more bright spots for all, especially children, in contrast to angst.
My prayers and heartfelt wishes are for all who suffer,
no matter how hugely or minisculey in our world’s
Coronavirus 19 epidemic.
I think of the elderly, the disabled, the already-physically frail.
#ThankHospitalHeroes
I applaud the Upstanders.
Teachers, caregivers, medical teams, #ThankHospitalHeroes, law enforcement,
emergency staff, essential service workers such as those who
haul off bins of excess we’ve wastefully created, appreciations
for food providers, and all their families –
whatever part of the network all helpers work in.
I think of life and death precipices for poor children,
some of whom are still being sexually trafficked during these
times. Crime hasn’t halted. It’s one of the issues industrious law
students with the FSU Public Interest Law Center work on daily.
And my hubby leads some of these brilliant students via
Zoom sessions in the LR. All the more reason for me to tip-toe outside.

It’s important to catch a smile when you can.

0

local buck-eye, gift plant of a dear neighbor

When you have a moment, what are your go-to smiles?

Good luck, wishes for healthy days and nights.

To sooth your Poetry Friday questions, it’s off to No Water River for you!

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?  🙂

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. 

A little green

We are part of POETRY FRIDAY so if you are hunting the host, travel to the bayou with Margaret hosting Reflections on the Teche.

 

But also welcome to Bookseedstudio’s bloom time plant time.

Here we are inching toward being torreya guardians, nurturing a rare babe of an ancient species of North Florida that is so special it has its own website. We felt lucky to cart a fringed creature off in our haul from Birdsong’s Olde Timey Plant Sale.

We also planted a tough-leaf kumquat, gift of my dear father-in-law, who dug it up for transplant. And he is a hardy species himself, at age 95+ (we won’t exactly say….) Among groundlings we planted from seed, color pop zinnia and yellow-flower cucumbers push the dirt down in the ground around and lift their eyes to the sky. The established blueberries, Meyer lemons, aloe, jasmine, gardenias, penta, and likely some chlorophyllic creatures I’ve forgotten to mention, each of them tickle our fancy.

 

A little green in the scheme

On a postage-stamp plot or even in a clay pot

a little green

in the scheme of things

planted

nurtured

means more green growing 

in this world of

plastic and concrete

 

means green growing things

set up shop within eyesight

tiny oxygen factories

serve a light lunch to

munchers

who can’t ever expect to prospect for

a meal

with a cents-off coupon

in concrete glass plastic

grocery

stores

©2019allrightsreservedJanGodownAnnino

Mother’s Day love with knowledge that everyone came from Mother, everyone knows a dear Mother, everyone can mother our precious Planet….

 


©2019allrightsreservedJanGodownAnnino

Love letter

Today’s Poetry Friday parade is parked at CHECK IT OUT.

. . . .

This week I wrote a love poem of sorts to a stranger, which you can find here on twitter. 

It was praise, appreciation, exaltation dashed off quickly for someone named a Happiness Engineer.

This is a real person working for WordPress,

who solved my kerbobble wobble of a recent post when the comment box had no gumption – wouldn’t function.

The Happiness Engineer sent me such a sweet note about receiving an original poem. (And didn’t even mention the typo!)

So now I’m of a mind to more often create a little ditty (nod to dear Michelle, Poetry Friday’s Today’s Little Ditty editor, author, creator, mentor) when I find myself saying a big thank you to the people who keep me functioning in work & at home (book finder, plumber, hurricane spotter, mole finder, etc.) Why didn’t I think of this before?

I am still so floaty that an email I sent into the void, asking for help, was read by an actual, factual, live human who bears a winsome work title & who responded efficiently with a fix. In keeping with this theme of rhyme poems of praise , I saw a poem sent along this week in social media from the Glasgow (Scotland) Women’s Library:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Libraries, oh libraries,

We couldn’t live without you

‪#LoveYourLibrary

Ain’t the world a lovely place?  Here is one for lovely you:

In a moment to spare

you left a few words

lines of flair,

like trills of the birds

-Jan Godown Annino

So many appreciations for visiting today. I want to see what you’ve written at your lovely site. And . . .

I hope you can return here next Friday, Feb. 22, when I’ve been invited to join some keen bloggers

& post a few words about a new book in town.        There will be a Give Away 🙂

2019 Book Launch Tour for Rebecca Kai Doltich & Fred Koehler WHAT IF…? THEN WE. . .

Remember that Poetry Friday this week is hosted at CHECK IT OUT