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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: verse novels, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 29
1. Daydreaming

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2 Comments on Daydreaming, last added: 7/22/2013
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2. Poetry Friday: The Wild Book

The Wild Book Margarita Engle

Homework Fear

The teacher at school
smiles, but she's too busy
to give me extra help,
so later, at home,
Mama tries to teach me.

She reminds me
to go oh-so-slowly
and take my time.
There is no hurry.
THe heavy book
will not rise up
and fly away.

When I scramble the sneaky letters
b and d, or the even trickier ones
r and l, Mama helps me learn
how to picture
the sep--a--rate
parts
of each mys--te--ri--ous
syl--la--ble.
Still, it's not easy
to go so
ss--ll--oo--ww--ll--yy.
S l o w l y.
SLOWLY!

I have to keep
warning myself
over and over
that whenever I try
to read too quickly,
my clumsy patience
flips over
and tumbles,
then falls...

Why?
Wwhhyyyy?
WHY?
¡Ay!

The doctor hisses Fefa's diagnosis like a curse-- word blindness*. She'll never read, or write. It's why she hates school so much, why the other kids taunt her when she has to read OUT LOUD.

But Fefa's mother has the heart of poet and doesn't accept the prognosis. She gives Fefa a blank book (one of the most terrifying things Fefa has seen) for her to fill with words as she gets them, slowly.

Fefa deals with the bullying and taunts of her classmates and siblings and slowly fills her book and slowly learns to detangle the letters.

Y'all know I'm a huge Engle fan. I'm most familiar with her YA stuff, but this one is more middle grade. There's a lot less politics and history**, as the main focus is Fefa's struggle with the written word. It's based on Engle's own grandmother and the stories she told of her own struggle with dyslexia.

Of course, one of the things that I like so much about Engle is how she weaves stories around Cuban history, so this wasn't my favorite one of hers. Also, there's only one narrator, while I'm used to her work being told in multiple voices. THAT SAID, it's still really good.

I like how Engle works with free verse and structure in this one to really capture Fefa's voice, especially when sounding words out and trying to figure out syllables. It's one that younger readers will enjoy and will cause them to seek out more of her work.

Today's Poetry Friday Round-up is over at... A Teaching Life. Be sure to check it out!


*Apparently, this is actually what they used to call dyslexia.

**Although it is set in 1912 Cuba and there is still some historical drama, it's just not the focus like it is in her other work.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

3. Poetry Friday: Under the Mesquite

Under the Mesquite Guadalupe Garcia McCall

señorita

Mami said life would change
after I turned fifteen
when I became a señorita.
But señorita means different things
to different people.

For my friends Mireya and Sarita,
who turned fifteen last summer,
señorita means wearing lipstick,
which when I put it on
is sticky and messy,
like strawberry jam on my lips.

For Mami señorita means
making me try on high-heeled shoes
two inches high
and meant to break my neck.

For Mami's sisters, my tías
Maritza and Belén, who live in Mexico,
señorita means measuring me,
turning me this way and that
as they fit me for the floral dresses
they cheerfully stitch together
on their sewing machines.
For the aunts, señorita also means
insisting I wear pantyhose,
the cruel invention that makes
my thick, trunklike thighs
into bulging sausages.

When my tías are done dressing me up
like a big Mexican Barbie doll,
I look at myself in the mirror.
Mami stands behind me
as I pull at the starched
flowered fabric and argue
with Mami's reflection.

"Why do I have to wear this stuff/
This is your style, not mine!
I like jeans and tennis shoes.
Why can't I just dress
like a normal teenager?
En los Estados Unidos girls
don't dress up like muñecas."

Señoritas don't talk back
to their mothers," Mami warns.
When my aunts aren't looking,
she gives me a tiny pinch,
like a bee sting on the inside
of my upper arm. "Señoritas know
when to be quiet and let their
elders make the decisions."

For my father, señorita means
he has to be a guard dog
when boys are around.
According to my parents,
I won't be allowed to date
until I graduate from high school.

That's fine with me.
I have better things to do
than think about boys--
like prepare for my future.
I want to be the first one in our family
to earn a college degree.

For my sisters, señorita means
having someone to worship:
it is the wonder of
seeing their oldest sister
looking like Cinderella
on her way to the ball.

But for me, señorita means
melancolía: settling into sadness.
It is the end of wild laughter.
The end of chewing bubble gum
and giggling over nothing
with my friends at the movies, our feet up
on the backs of the theater seats.

Señorita is very boring
when we go to a fancy restaurant
decorated with Christmas lights
for the upcoming Posadas.
We sit properly, Papi, Mami,
and I, quietly celebrating
my fifteenth birthday
with due etiquette because
I'm trying my best
to be a good daughter and accept
the clipping of my wings,
the taming of my heart.

Being a señorita
is not as much fun
as I'd expected it to be.

2 Comments on Poetry Friday: Under the Mesquite, last added: 4/14/2012
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4. National Poetry Month: Inside Out and Back Again

Black and White and Yellow and Red

The bell rings.
Everyone stands.
I stand.

They line up;
so do I.

Down a hall.
Turn left.
Take a tray.
Receive food.
Sit.

On one side
of the bright, noisy room,
light skin.
Other side,
dark skin.

Both laughing, chewing,
as if it never occured
to them
someone medium
would show up.

I don't know where to sit
any more than
I know how to eat
the pink sausage
snuggled inside bread
shaped like a corncob,
smeared with sauces
yellow and red.

I think
they are making fun
of the Vietnamese flag
until I remember
no one here likely knows
that flag's colors.

I put down the try
and wait
in the hallway.

September 2
11:30 am


Inside Out and Back AgainInside Out and Back Again Thanhha Lai

I got to review this wonderful novel for School Library Journal. My full review is here.

If you don't want to click over and read, here's the takeaway:

1. It got a star
2. Sensory language describing the rich smells and tastes of Vietnam draws readers in and contrasts with Hà's perceptions of bland American food, and the immediacy of the narrative will appeal to those who do not usually enjoy historical fiction


Book Provided by... School Library Journal, for review

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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5. National Poetry Month: Tofu Quilt

Tofu QuiltTofu Quilt Ching Yeung Russell

Secret Wish

I remember Mr. Hon
once said that
a person should see more things
and open his eyes
if he wants to write a good story.

Ma cannot afford to send me off
to see things.
So I decide that
when I grow up,
I will not marry a doctor,
or a lawyer,
or a teacher,
or a businessman.
I will marry
a bus driver,
who can drive me everywhere
to see the world
and it will be
free.

And he must look like
Mr. Hon.


Tofu Quilt is a semi-auto-biographical verse novel about growing up in Hong Kong in the 50s and 60s and wanting to become a writer. Most of the poems focus on her relatives insisting that she shouldn't have big dreams or so much education, because she's a girl (her mother very much disagrees and insists that boys and girls are the same), reading books, or her trails and tribulations with various writing teachers over the years.

There isn't much of a plot, but it is a nice book especially for its pictures into day-to-day life in mid-century Hong Kong. The book shines when Ying is listening to the old ladies gossip at the end of the day or describing the flower market or the foreign tourist taking photos of drying laundry.


ARC Provided by... the publisher for review consideration

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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6. National Poetry Month: Make Lemonade

Make Lemonade (Make Lemonade Trilogy)Make Lemonade Virginia Euwer Wolff

There are 2 poetry posts today because I missed one earlier this week (oops!)

I am telling you this just the way it went
with all the details I remember as they were,
and including the parts I'm not sure about.
You know, where something happened
but you aren't convinced
you understood it?
Other people would maybe tell it different
but I was there.

It's like a bird. One minutes it's picking up something
off the sidewalk
and you recognize it all together as a bird eating.
The next minute it's gone into traffic on the street
and you try and remember how that bird was,
how its pointy feet were strutting
and its neck was bulging back and forth
but its gone and you're the only one can tell
it was there in front of you.

This is like that.

Make Lemonade is one of the earliest verse novels*-- it came out in 1993.

Often, when I read a ground-breaking book, after the ground has been well broken and things have grown up on it, it's hard to see what was so special about the original. I just have to remember that if it hadn't been for X, everything else that has come since wouldn't have happened.

I did NOT feel that way about this book.

LeVaughn wants to go to college. She'll be the first in her family, the first in her building to go. Her entire life has been about keeping up the grades she'll need and trying to make the money for tuition.

She gets a job babysitting for Jolly. Jolly's 17, a high school dropout, and works in a factory. She has 2 kids LeVaughn would watch after school.

It's harder than LeVaughn thought it would be to balance watching Jolly's kids and her school work. Jolly doesn't know what she's doing and LeVaughn needs to remind her about basic things like buying new diapers. Then Jolly gets fired and can't pay LeVaughn anymore, but at that point LeVaughn's not walking away and will do whatever she can to help Jolly and her kids out.

I liked LeVaughn's inner strength-- not just in how she's pushing herself for a better life, but also in how, when Jolly loses her job, she stands up to her mother to continue doing what she thinks is right. She also struggles with her situation-- is it wrong to take money from Jolly to ensure that she will never end up like her?

AND, most of all, I love how LeVaughn knows she's better that Jolly, but Jolly still has a lot to teach her about the world and that even though they both live in poverty, LeVaughn has no idea how dark things can be.

A wonderful book that still remains relevant and popular 18 years after its debut. (18 years!!!! 1993 was NOT that long ago. Please tell me my calculator just lied to me!)

In other poetry posts this week, I reviewed Inside Out and Back Again, 2 Comments on National Poetry Month: Make Lemonade, last added: 4/22/2011

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7. National Poetry Month: The Firefly Letters

The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to CubaThe Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba Margarita Engle

Elena

The castle where Fredrika
spend her childhood
was haunted.

In the attic, there was a sword
that had beheaded a nobleman
during a war.

There were bloodstained clothes
beside the sword.

None of the servants would climb
up to the attic to fetch boxes or trunks
that had been stored
next to ghosts.

*********

This house where I live
it haunted too.

It was built by slaves
who rebelled, and buried an overseer
inside the walls.

Papa has never been able to find
the skeleton,
but sometimes at night
I hear pitiful moans
and rattling chains.

It is either the ghost
of some poor child
from the slave ships
being driven
to market.

In 1851, Sweden's first female novelist journeyed to Cuba. Drawing extensively from her journals, Engle writes a verse novel based on Fredrika Bremer's time there.

The book is mostly told in three voices-- Fredrika's, Elena's (the daughter of the rich family Fredrika is staying with) and Cecelia's (a slave belonging to Elena's family, who acts as Fredrika's translator and guide.)

Although I found the CONSTANT parallels drawn between a woman's role and actual slavery to be a bit much and overdrawn (yes, you had no freedom if you were a rich man's daughter, but you weren't in actual chains) overall, I did really enjoy this book. I also think it makes an interesting companion to Engle's other book on Cuban slavery, The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom. I especially enjoyed seeing Cuba through three different sets of eyes-- a slave who still remembered life in Africa, a Swedish aristocrat, and a Cuban aristocrat-- they had such different opinions and noticed such different things, it gives reader a more complete picture of daily life.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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8. Review of the Day: Hidden by Helen Frost

Hidden
By Helen Frost
Frances Foster Books (Farrar Straus & Giroux)
$16.99
ISBN: 978-0-374-38221-6
Ages 10 and up
On shelves now.

If poems had been introduced to me as a child as puzzles, maybe I would have taken to them a little more. A poem is a kind of puzzle, isn’t it? Depending on the kind of poem you have to make the syllables and words conform to a preexisting format. Unless it’s free verse, of course. Then all bets are off. That’s what you do when you’re writing a poem, but can reading one be an act of puzzle-solving as well? Earlier this year I reviewed Bob Raczka’s Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word which required the reader’s eyes to leap around the page, piecing together the words. Hidden by Helen Frost requires relatively less work to read, but the reader willing to seek out the messages hidden (ho ho) in some of the poems will be amply rewarded. The result is that “Hidden” manages to be both a book of poetry and a wholly original story of two girls bound together by a singular, accidental crime.

When you go to a new summer camp you usually have to deal with not knowing anyone. That’s not Darra’s problem though. Her problem is that she does know someone and, worse, that person knows her too. Years and years ago Darra’s father accidentally kidnapped a young girl by the name of Wren Abbot. He didn’t mean to, of course. He was carjacking, unaware that Wren was hidden in the back of the car, frightened out of her mind. Years later Darra, who once helped Wren, runs into the girl that, she is convinced, led the cops back to her home and got her dad arrested. Now they have no idea how to act around one another, and in the midst of the usual tween summer camp dramas they need to return to the past to clarify what happened and to figure out if they both can recover from the experience.

I’ve been a fan of Frost’s for years. Lots of authors write verse novels (stories written in free verse) and most of them are little more than just a series of sentences broken up without much reason except to pad out the pages. Frost is never like that. When she writes a verse novel she commits. Her books are written in various forms for a reason. In The Braid she created an intricate braid-like form of poetry that twisted and turned on itself. In Diamond Willow her poems were diamond shaped with special messages hidden inside. Hidden take a different tactic. Wren’s voice is straight up free verse, while Darra’s requires a little more work. As Frost puts it, “The last words of the long lines, when read down the right side of the page, give further insight into her story.” Well when I read that I had to flip the book back to the beginning to see if it was true or not. Sure as shooting, each and every one of Darra’s sections yields a new side of her story. The words behind her words, you might say. The experience of discovering this is akin to a small treasure hunt. When pitching this book to kids, make sure you play up this aspect. Some children will immediately decode the m

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9. Why Write in Verse: My Thoughts on the Verse Novel

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3 Comments on Why Write in Verse: My Thoughts on the Verse Novel, last added: 9/20/2011
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10. The Verse Novel Form: Guest Blogger Lorraine Marwood Tells How and Why

I am delighted to welcome children's author and poet Lorraine Marwood to my blog today. Lorraine's second verse novel for children, Star Jumps has just been released (you can see my review of it here), so I asked Lorraine to drop in and talk about why she chooses to use the verse novel form This is what she had to say:Why use this genre as a way of story telling?Years ago when I finally gave into

0 Comments on The Verse Novel Form: Guest Blogger Lorraine Marwood Tells How and Why as of 7/14/2009 1:53:00 PM
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11. Poetry Friday

So, I know I've been pretty down on verse novels lately and haven't read one in a while that I both (a) thought was poetry and (b) liked.


But, I have to say, that I have two that I am completely enamored of at the moment! Love That Dog and its sequel, Hate That Cat, both by Sharon Creech.

Both books are poems Jack writes to his teacher, they're like letters almost, and we only get Jack's side. (If I were a creative writing teacher, I would have my students read these books and then write Miss Stretchberry's response poems.) The class is studying poetry and Jack struggles to understand some of it, to tell why some things are poems and some aren't. And some of Jack's poetry would work as prose, and some is pure poetry. There are big ideas and small ideas and humor and sadness, forgiveness and loss, all in a few pages and a few words.

I love how this book has to be told in poetry because it's about poetry. I love how it references so many other classic and non-classic poems and how those poems are in the back of the book, because while I may automatically get a reference to a red wheelbarrow, most middle grade readers won't. I also love how much Jack loves Mr. Walter Dean Myers and how he wonders if each new poet is still alive. Most of all, I loved that the poems were awesome and good but still read like they were written by a kid.

I didn't even mind the dead dog (to be fair, the dog is dead before the book starts, but it still made me cry!) I want to shout about these books from the rooftop. Love That Dog is going to be the April book for my book discussion group. I decided that as soon as a I finished the book.

And here are two poems to show why these books are awesome (both are from Hate That Cat):

October 12

Something I am wondering:
if you cannot hear
do words have no sounds
in your head?


Do you see
a

    silent

        movie?


October 17

ONOMATOPOEIA
made my ears frizzle
today.

All that buzz buzz buzz
and
pop! pop!
and
drip and tinkle and trickle--
the sounds are still
buzzing and popping
in my head.

And the bells bells bells
in that poem you read
by Mr. Poe
(is he alive?)
all those bells bells bells
all those tinkling and jingling
and swinging and ringing
and rhyming and chiming
and clanging and clashing
and tolling and rolling
all those bells bells bells
and that tintinnabulation
what a word!
Tintinnabulation!

... (you'll have to read the book to get the rest! Ha!)

Round up is over at Growing Up with Books.

Books Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links.
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12. What Dee White likes about Children's Poetry

As part of my celebrations for the release of my verse novel, Toppling, I have invited some of my friends - writers, poets, bloggers, teachers and more - to drop by during March. I will be asking each visitor the same question - what do you like about children's poetry? - but am expecting some real variety in their answers.So, without further ado, I'd like to welcome my first visitor for the

4 Comments on What Dee White likes about Children's Poetry, last added: 3/4/2010
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13. Poetry Friday

Today's Poetry Friday is an offering of a verse novel review

On Pointe Lorie Ann Grover

By now you have all probably figured out that I have a weakness for ballet novels. Someday I'd like to do some research into the changing world of ballet novels-- when they started actively talking about permanent foot damage and eating disorders. When the heroine wasn't always guaranteed to grow up to be the world's biggest ballet star.

This one follows a more modern ballet novel plot and as a frequent reader of such things, the ballet plot was pretty predictable and wrapped up a little too quickly.

Clare is living with her grandfather for the summer, taking intensive ballet classes, preparing for an audition for the City Ballet Company. Failure, for her, is not an option, but she doesn't have control over everything and may have to face the unfaceable.

As a verse novel, this one is a bit different in that it is one long poem instead of a series of poems. As a poem, it falls into the trap of many verse novels and doesn't really work on the level of poetry. The moments of poetry come when Clare is dancing, but when it's general plot and dialogue, it doesn't work as well.

But, it is obvious that Grover is a dancer and danced at the intense level that Clare does. She's gone through the auditions and competitiveness of that level of dance and writes about it in completely authentic voice. And this is why the poetry works best when it's about the dancing.

Dust.
Steamy sweat,
like a pot
of chicken soup.
Oak floors.
Pine rosin.
Sour breath
from deep inside.
We breathe it all
in rhythm.

Here is the moment
when the music flows into my bones,
and I don't have to
think of the steps,
and I don't have to count the movements,
and it really feels
like I might actually be
dancing
for a few seconds.

I'm a pale dust mote
swirling on a warm
sunbeam.
I leap and float,
land deep and rise
to step and spin in the shaft of light,
showing everyone
who I really am.
It's like
I'm turned
inside out.

(pages 11-12)

Round up is over at Teaching Books.


Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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14. What Karen Collum Likes About Children's Poetry

How exciting! Today I welcome another visitor to my blog, here to help me celebrate the release of Toppling by guest blogging about what she likes about children's poetry.Please welcome the lovely Karen Collum. Over to you, Karen.The Thinking Reader’s NovelI’ve always been a voracious reader, devouring children’s books of every kind at an alarming rate. Verse novels, however, are a new discovery

2 Comments on What Karen Collum Likes About Children's Poetry, last added: 3/10/2010
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15. ABOUT TOPPLING AND VERSE NOVELS

While some may have been indulging themselves with a nice Saturday morning sleep-in on 27 February this year, or contemplating what other aspects of the WA Writers Festival to enjoy, I was savouring a windswept breakfast at the Matilda Bay Tearooms with members of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).


Among those present was Western Australian children’s author, Sally Murphy. I chatted to her about her latest book: ‘Toppling’, released by Walker Books that week. ‘Toppling’ is Sally’s second verse novel and since I had been lucky enough to receive a review copy, I took it with me for Sally to sign.

Everybody needs a hobby, and in‘Toppling’ the main character, John, is intodomino toppling.He admits to it being a kind of a strange endeavour.

Some kids collect model cars
or aeroplanes
or stamps
1 Comments on ABOUT TOPPLING AND VERSE NOVELS, last added: 4/9/2010
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16. Poetry Friday: Diamond Willow

Diamond Willow (Frances Foster Books)Diamond Willow Helen Frost

Well, I loved Crossing Stones so much, I wanted to read more of Frost's book. When Willow makes a mistake with her dogsled team, the family's favorite dog is seriously injured. In her guilt, Willow is determined to make things right, which leads to adventure and long-held family secrets, but without being as melodramatic as it sounds.

Willow lives in a small village in Alaska, and is part Athabascan. Her racial and cultural identity are very minor parts of the story, and I can't speak to the authenticity of it, but a cursory search doesn't throw up any criticism and I do like seeing modern stories about Native American characters, especially because this book isn't about being Native American.

Diamond Willow is a type of wood found in northern climates, where diamonds with dark centers form where injured branches fall away. The injury makes the wood stunningly beautiful, but one must remove the bark to find it. Willow is named after Diamond Willow and is serves as a fitting metaphor for her character. Most of the book is told in verse, in her voice, diamond shapes with bolded words to get at what she's really thinking. We also get interjections from the animals in Willow's life, all of which are the souls of her and her friend's departed family members, one of which is a character in The Braid, which has been on my TBR list for a loooooooooooong time.



What
I love
about dogs:
They don't talk
behind your back.
If they're mad at you,
they bark a couple times
and get it over with. It's true
they slobber on you sometimes.
(I'm glad people don't do that.) They
jump out and scare you in the dark. (I know,
I should say me not "you"--some people aren't
afraid of anything.) But dogs don't make fun
of you. They don't hit you in the back
of your neck with an ice-covered
snowball, and if they did, and
it made you cry, all their
friends wouldn't stand
there laughing
at you.
(Me.)



Round-up is over at Great Kid's Books!

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.
17. Hour 3.5/Poetry Friday

Hours Spent Reading: 3.5
Books Read: 2
Pages Read: 410
Money Raised: $594
What I'm listening to: Judas's Death (although, given the book, it would be much more appropriate if I had been listening to Mercy House. Sadly, my life is soundtracked by iTunes shuffle right now, not a well-thought out playlist.)

Please remember that I'm reading to raise money for Room to Read, which builds libraries, stocks them with books, and trains people to become their librarians.

Keesha's HouseKeesha's House Helen Frost

Keesha's house is set off the street
s if you don't know what you're looking for
you might not even see the wide blue door
half hidden by a weeping willow tree.


Using sestinas and sonnets (and even a crown of sonnets) several kids tell how they became lost, and sometimes, found. They tell of the safe place they found at Keesha's house, where people just let them live and be. Where they're allowed to exist. We also hear from the adults in their lives, the ones that care, the ones that see what's happening, the ones that don't.

There is tragedy here, and hope. Like the other books written by Frost, I'm always struck by the absolute poetic craft she puts into her work, but her words and story shine through so much that you don't notice it while reading. (Ok, so, I knew it was Frost, so after reading a first poem, I analyzed it and quickly recognized the sestina, then looked at rhyme schemes for the sonnets. BECAUSE I AM A DORK.)

Powerful wonderful stuff.

Round up is over at The Crazy Files.

Book Provided by... a giveaway at a work meeting! score!

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

1 Comments on Hour 3.5/Poetry Friday, last added: 6/4/2010
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18. Yes. This. This Exactly.

That was my comment in response to Nikki Grimes's post about verse novels.

Go. Read. Discuss.

Kiva - loans that change lives

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19. Poetry Friday: All the Broken Pieces

All The Broken PiecesAll The Broken Pieces Ann E. Burg

My fingers stumble
through the scales
and through
"The Gypsy Camp."

They crowd the keys,
landing in two spots
at the same time.
They slip, clank, and clash
into sounds
that aren't music.

Watch, Jeff says calmly
when my fingers freeze
in frustration.

Jeff's fingers are
bigger than mine,
but they know how
to touch each key,
one at a time.
They unlock each sound
separately.

Jeff doesn't make mistakes.

His fingers brush
across the piano keys
like branches
of the tamarind
swaying in the wind.
How can such big hands
make such quiet music?

Matt is the son of a Vietnamese mother and the American soldier who left and didn't come back. He was airlifted out of Saigon without his mother or brother and adopted by an American family.

In his experiences on his baseball team, where a teammate blames Matt for a brother's death, and in working with a Veterans group, Matt comes to face the life he lived before and now only lives in his nightmares.

I've often talked about how I feel many verse novels could be written in short paragraphs and that's true here, but the sparsity of the text because of the verse format helps show Matt's isolation and confusion.

Round up is over at A Wrung Sponge!

Book Provided by... my local library

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3 Comments on Poetry Friday: All the Broken Pieces, last added: 10/25/2010
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20. Story Secrets: HOLD ME TIGHT by rgz co-founder Lorie Ann Grover

What a great pleasure it is to chat with rgz co-founder Lorie Ann Grover today about her verse novel, HOLD ME TIGHT.

Readers, this is a *wonderful* book, and an excellent compliment to this week's spotlighted title over at readergirlz, Lauren Oliver's BEFORE I FALL. It's thematically very different, but if you love intense stories with well drawn characters and true emotions, then you will absolutely adore HOLD ME TIGHT.

Welcome, Lorie Ann!

*****

Psst. Holly, here are few secrets from HOLD ME TIGHT.

HOLD ME TIGHT is based on my own life experiences. When I was ten, my father left our family, and the boy who sat in front of me was kidnapped. Thirty years later, I decided to incorporate both events into a novel. Here's my trailer:


And now a few facts not found in the work... (spoiler alert)

Find out Lorie Ann's secrets and more about HOLD ME TIGHT here...

~Holly Cupala

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21. Poetry Friday: The Braid

How awesomely appropriate is it that the first day of National Poetry Month falls on a Friday, which is a day that we celebrate poetry every week?

In honor of National Poetry Month, I'm planning on having a poetry post EVERY DAY (that includes weekends!) So I'll either share a poem or review a novel written in verse, like I try to do every Friday. And I'm not the only blogger doing something special to celebrate! Check out this loooooooooooooooooooooooong list of all the ways we're adding more poetry into our lives this month!

Let's get started with a review of a verse novel by my hands-down favorite verse-novel author.

The BraidThe Braid Helen Frost

Letters

Holding almost a weightless warmth
(or chill) letters pass from one hand
to another, shifting borders
between the unknown and the known.
Such minute detail: a cricket
chirping by the dam and midnight;
a cracked blue plate. Someone sitting
at a table writing, absorbed in thought.



In 1850, at the end of the Highland Clearances, the MacKinnon family is evicted from their home on the island of Barra, in the Outer Hebrides. The oldest child, Sarah, elects to stay behind with her grandmother on a neighboring island. The night before they leave, Sarah braids her hair together with her sister Jeannie's. She then cuts off the braid and takes half with her, leaving the other half for her sister. The book then follows their respective stories-- Sarah's as she makes life in the small village and falls in love and Jeannine's as she and her family make the dangerous crossing and arrive in Cape Brenton, which is starving itself and has no place for strangers.

As with all of Helen Frost's verse novels, this one is expertly crafted. It alternates narrative poems told from each sister with shorter praise poems. The narrative poems read like prose, but when you read the author's note in the end, you discover that each line has the same number of syllables as the speaker's age and that the last words of each line are used for the first words of each line of the next narrative poem, braiding them together. At the same time, the praise poems braid the last line with the following first line. Like her other books, I saved the author's note until the end (sometimes knowing too much about how she crafted her work can be a plot spoiler!) and then went back and reread the story with the craft in mind. I love how her work is always so meticulously crafted but that it never, ever, ever, ever interferes with the story she's telling.

That said, while I love the story, overall this one didn't do as much for me as Frost's other work. That's not to say it's not brilliant and awesome, but just that Frost has a really high bar set for herself and this one wasn't my favorite of hers. The interspersal of the praise poems, which aren't part of the plot, broke the flow up a bit.

But, how can you not love lines like this? (From one of Sarah's narrative poems)

In love they say, as if love is a place you enter--as if we
slice open time and find a wh

4 Comments on Poetry Friday: The Braid, last added: 4/2/2011
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22. March Update

It's the last day of March, and so time for another of my monthly updates.Lots has happened in my writing life in March, with things moving along on three of my forthcoming books. I feel more and more like a 'real' author every day.At the start of the month I was featured in Susan Stephenson's column at Muselings, an ezine for writers. Susan is an Australian based reviewer of books and passionate

2 Comments on March Update, last added: 4/6/2009
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23. Readergirlz: April 2009

Operation Teen Book Drop
This April, the readergirlz invite you to take part in the second annual Operation Teen Book Drop.. Scroll down to Operation TBD for more info!

This month's readergirlz book pick is Impulse, a verse novel by Ellen Hopkins.

Download this month's poster (PDF) to help spread the word about both Operation TBD and Impulse. Put the poster up at your library, your school, or your favorite bookstore. Perhaps you'll start your own readergirlz book club there. If so, tell us all about it!

To discuss the book with other readers and with the author herself, join us at the readergirlz blog, where we'll be discussing the book all month long and have new blog posts almost every day!

Chat live with Ellen Hopkins at the readergirlz blog on Wednesday, April 22nd. The chat will begin at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST and last for about an hour.

Operation TBD

Help rgz raise awareness of Support Teen Literature Day with YALSA by participating in Operation Teen Book Drop (TBD '09). Download a bookplate, paste it in the book of your choice, and drop it somewhere in your community on Thursday, April 16th. This is the same day that rgz, GuysLitWire, and YALSA are dropping 8,000 books to hospitalized teens across the country, thanks to the generosity of various publishers and supporters.

Then, that night, join the Post-Op Party at the readergirlz blog, 6 PM PST/9 PM EST. It will be a live chat with authors and readers from around the world. Anyone may join in!

4 Comments on Readergirlz: April 2009, last added: 5/11/2009
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24. First Review

The first review for my verse novel, Pearl Verses the World is online, here. Among other things the reviewer describes the story as "a wonderfully told story with heart".I'm ecstatic.Pearl will be released on May 1 - watch this space for a month of celebrations including a blog tour, guest bloggers, a verse-off and more. In the meantime, Pearl can be ordered online at Fishpond

8 Comments on First Review, last added: 5/12/2009
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25. Poetry Friday

I've never been
to a funeral
until today.

I see
dazzling arrangements of
red, yellow, and purple flowers
with long, green stems.

I see
a stained-glass window with
a white dove,
a yellow sun,
a blue sky.

I see
a gold cross,
standing tall,
shiny,
brilliant.

And I see
black.

Black dresses.
Black pants.
Black shoes.
Black bibles.

Black is my favorite color.
Jackson asked me about it one time.

"Ava, why don't you like pink?
Or yellow?
Or blue?"

"I love black," I said.
"It suits me."

"I suit you," he said.

And then he kissed me.

I'm not so sure
I love black
anymore.

So begins the verse novel I Heart You, You Haunt Me Lisa Schroeder

Ava's boyfriend Jackson is dead and Ava feels responsible, she's haunted by his death. Then, she's haunted by his ghost. It's hard to move on when he's right there, just out of sight, but leaving messages on the bathroom mirror and turning on the radio to your song.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I would have loved it at the age of 13 and mostly, I enjoyed reading it. However, I had issues with Ava and Jackson's relationship. It was very Bella-and-Edward. I mean, Ava finally gets out of the house and hangs out with her friends and Jackson's ghost totally trashes her room. He did the same sort of stuff when he was alive and Ava loves him for it. Ew.

And then there's my whole wishy-washy-ness on verse novels in the first place. There wasn't a lot of actual poetry in this, more terse prose with odd line breaks. That said though, it worked. The terseness, the brevity, the odd line breaks, all worked for Ava's voice as she tries to deal with what's going on.

So, would I give this to an adult friend who reads a lot of YA? No.
Would I give it to a junior high girl who lives romance? In a heartbeat.

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is hosted at Live.Love.Explore. Go enjoy!

2 Comments on Poetry Friday, last added: 5/30/2009
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