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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Poetry Friday, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 3,134
1. Poetry Friday with a review of One the Wing

I live on a ten acre farm on a hillside, and we get lots of bird visitors. Owls live in one of our outbuildings, and swallows spend the summer in our barn. We have seen bald eagles sitting in our trees, and red-tailed hawks often swoop over the house calling out to each other. I cannot help being charmed by the birds that I see and so I really enjoyed today's poetry book, and I hope many of you will enjoy reading it too.

On the WingOn the wing
David Elliott
Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Candlewick Press, 2014, 978-0-7636-5324-8
Animals have inspired musicians, artists, prose writers, and poets for centuries. T.S Elliot, who loved cats, was drawn to creating poems about felines. Others have captured the majesty of a tiger, the gravitas of elephants, and the watchful nature of rabbits. Birds, perhaps more than any other animal - other than cats and dogs - have attracted the attention of poets. Perhaps this is because birds are found everywhere, in all kinds of environments. They are also often beautiful and come in so many shapes, colors, and sizes.
   In this excellent poetry title we encounter a wonderful collection of birds from tiny gem like hummingbirds that  are “Always / in a / tizzy” going back and forth and zooming to and fro busily, to the giant Andean Condor that could, if we are not careful “disappear,” taking with it the memories of ancient times that we humans are losing.
   Some of the birds we meet on the pages will be familiar. We see them in parks, on windowsills, and in gardens. These include sparrows, blue jays, cardinals, crows, and owls. Others are like the exotic Caribbean Flamingo who’s bright pink plumage seems to set the sky “alight” when they take to the air.
   This would be a wonderful book to share with children who have an interest in birds. Throughout the book the combination of wonderful poems and lush paintings gives children a special bird-filled experience.


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2. Poetry Friday with a review of The death of the hat: A Brief history of poetry in 50 objects

One of the wonderful things about reading books that were written at different moments in time is they tend to reflect the culture and conventions of the era in which they were written. Stories and poems can give us a glimpse into the past and help us to get a picture of what life was like then.

In today's poetry title readers will find poems that were written long ago and not so long ago, and in each one the poet describes an object of some kind. Children and adults alike are going to enjoy exploring this book.

The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 ObjectsThe death of the hat: A Brief history of poetry in 50 objects
Selected by Paul B. Janeczko
Illustrated by Chris Raschka
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 8 to 12
Candlewick Press, 2015, 978-0-7636-6963-8
For almost as long as humans have been writing, humans have been creating poetry. Throughout history men and women all over the world have been using poetry as a means to tell a story, describe something, capture a moment in time, or expound on an idea or feeling that interests them. Like music, art, and prose writing, poetry has evolved over the ages and when we look at poems from different eras we can see the trends, conventions, and fashions that were popular at that time.
   In this very unique poetry collection Paul Janeczko explores how poets, over the ages, have described objects in their writings. The poems capture the flavor of the times in which they were written, thus making it possible for readers to get a sense of how styles and ways of expression changed over time.
   We begin in the early Middle Ages with a poem about a bookworm. The poem describes how a moth ate a word. The poet feels that it is curious that such an insect could “swallow the word of a man.” Like a “thief in the dark” it takes something profound and is not “A whit the wiser” afterwards.
   The Renaissance brings us the words of William Shakespeare and we are given a speech from Romeo and Juliet. The excerpt is Mercutio’s speech about Queen Mab, who is a tiny fairy. In a chariot made of an empty hazelnut she travels across the faces of men while they sleep. Shakespeare’s contemporary, Ben Jonson, offer us a poem about the sun, and we read about how the sun breaks free of the bonds of winter, melting the ice on streams, and encouraging trees to dress their nakedness with “crisped heads.”
   In the romantic period we find poems by Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, Lord Tennyson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Here there are poems about the letter E, a mouse’s nest, an eagle, and snow-flakes.
   The Victorian era brings us poems by Edgar Allen Poe, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickenson, among others. We can see how these writings were influenced by the creations of earlier centuries and then we can see how the writers of the modern period (from 1900 to 1945) took a very different path. Poets tried new forms and experimented with words. This experimentation, and the innovative path that went with it, has continued to the present day.
   What is interesting about this book is that it can be enjoyed on many levels. Readers can simply enjoy the poems, dipping into the book at random, or they can explore the historical aspect of the collection.
   An introduction at the beginning of the book provides readers with further information about the time periods that are mentioned in the text.
  



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3. Sherman Alexie: The Powwow at the End of the World

 

November is Native American Heritage Month. In recognition of that, I am sharing one of my favorite poems by Sherman Alexie. I also have an excerpt from an article titled The Human Right to Water at Standing Rock.


The Powwow at the End of the World
by Sherman Alexie

I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall   
after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam   
and topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgive   
and so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive dam   
downriver from the Grand Coulee. I am told by many of you   
that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters find   
their way to the mouth of the Columbia River as it enters the Pacific   
and causes all of it to rise. I am told by many of you that I must forgive   
and so I shall after the first drop of floodwater is swallowed by that salmon   
waiting in the Pacific.

Click here to read the rest of the poem.

***************

The Human Right to Water at Standing Rock
By Marjorie Cohn, Truthout/News Analysis

Excerpt:
As thousands of Indigenous people from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, other Native American tribes, and their allies continue their protest against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), corporate media have continued to focus almost exclusively on the presidential election. Most media ignored last week's vicious attack on the Water Protectors, as they call themselves.
The construction of the pipeline would violate the human right to peace, the right of Indigenous peoples to practice their cultural traditions, and several federal statutes.
On October 27, more than 100 police from seven different states and the North Dakota National Guard, clad in riot gear and carrying automatic rifles, arrived in MRAPs [Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected military vehicles], Humvees and an armored police truck. They defended Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the pipeline, and arrested 142 Water Protectors. That brings the total arrested since August to over 400. More than 40 people have been injured, and some have broken bones and welts from rubber bullets fired by officers.
Ret. Army Col. Ann Wright, who spent four days at Standing Rock, reported: "Police used mace, pepper spray, tear gas and flash-bang grenades and bean-bag rounds against Native Americans who lined up on the highway."
The 1,170-mile, $3.7 billion oil pipeline is scheduled to traverse North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Iowa. Slated to transport over 570,000 barrels of fracked oil daily, the pipeline would pass under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, just a half-mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's drinking water source. It could affect 28 tribes and millions of people.
An inevitable oil spill from the pipeline, releasing diesel fuel and toxic levels of contaminants into the river, would be culturally and economically catastrophic to the tribe, polluting its source of water and critical farmlands...

Those arrested were held at the Morton County Correctional Center in 10-by-14 foot cages, some in dog kennels. They reported being forced to wait for access to food, water, bathrooms and medical attention. Some charged with misdemeanors were strip-searched. Women were left naked in their cells and male guards harassed them. Some people were zip-tied in stress positions for hours.

Click here to read the rest of the article.
********************
Laura Purdie Salas has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Writing the World for Kids.

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4. Poetry Friday with a review of Presidential Misadventures:Poems That Poke Fun at the Man in Charge

After months of media coverage and a great deal of discord, the lead up to Election Day is finally almost over. The end is almost in sight. I thought that I would offer my readers a little light relief on this poetry Friday. Today's poetry book looks at the lives of all the men who have been the president of the United States, from George Washington to Barack Obama.Using short and always amusing poems, the author makes fun of the Commanders in Chief in a creative way that readers of all ages will appreciate.

Presidential Misadventures: Poems That Poke Fun at the Man in ChargePresidential Misadventures: Poems that make fun of the man in charge
Bob Raczka
Illustrated by Dan E. Burr
Poetry
For ages 8 to 12
Roaring Brook Press, 2015, 978-1-59643-980-1
In 1890 a bored school boy called Edmund Clerihew Bentley was in science class listening to his teacher talk about Sir Humphry Davy, who was a famous English scientist. While the teacher talked, Edmund wrote a four lined poem about Sir Humphry, one that made fun of him. The form that Edmund used ended up becoming popular and today these poems that poke fun at famous people are known as clerihew poems.
   The rules for writing such poems are simple. They have to be four lines long and the first two lines have to rhyme, as do the last two lines. The first line should contain the name of the person who is being made fun of, and the meter in the poem should be irregular.
   Delighting in this poetry form Bob Raczka decided to write a whole book of clerihew poems which feature the presidents of the United States. Many of the poems that appear in this collection contain true facts about the presidents who have served the American people over the centuries. For example, the poem about William H. Taft tells us that the president, because of his rather large size, got stuck in the tub. This, is fact, really did happen. Similarly Richard Nixon did indeed tell “a lie he couldn’t fix,” and Ronald Reagan did have a fondness for jelly-beans.
   The author gives us poems for every single president, from George Washington to Barak Obama, and in each one clever touches of humor and word use offer future potential clerihew poets much to think about.

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5. Poetry Friday: A Terza Rima for the Poetry Seven

The assignment? A terza rima, the interlocking poetic form made famous by Dante's Inferno.

The theme? Gratitude.

For once, I knew instantly how this theme would inform my poem: There was no doubt its subject would be my poetry sisters, without whom I would not have explored poetry's "Here Be Dragons" waters. Without them, I'd still be stuck in my safe, shallow, shoals. (Or perhaps, if Dante were my guide, be marooned in poetry purgatory.) The only trick was putting all that into iambic pentameter in the rhyme scheme of a terza rima:

a
b
a

b
c
b

(repeat as necessary, and end with a couplet, if desired.)


In the end, my poem became a tribute to the poems The Poetry Seven tackled this year. Usually, I try to write to a wider audience, but this one is different. I know I'm a better writer when I write with friends---and I needed to say thank you, loud and clear.


(Links to my sister's Terza Rimas today can be found inside the poem.)


A Terza Rima for the Poetry Seven

Sisters do not let sisters ode alone
Nor do they, solo, rondeau redoublé
If raccontino calls, they hold the phone,

And bellow for some muse-y muscle; they
deep six, by stanza, surly sestinas
and dig a common grave for dross cliché.

Don’t bother asking for their subpoenas
To brashly bait expanding etheree
Nothing stops these pen-slinging tsarinas.

Once snagged, they let no villanelle go free;
Mouthy haiku in operating rooms
are re-lined and re-stitched, repeatedly;

So do not question who wears the pantoums
here; it’s seven sonnet-crowned, brave harpies:
Laura, Kel, Trish, Liz, Andi, T. : nom de plumes

who together with laptops (or Sharpies)
have danced the sedoka and triolet;
and ekprasticated art farandwee.

I’m grateful to wield words with this septet:
Friends, forever. Poetesses, well-met.

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Laura at Writing the World for Kids.

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6. Poetry Seven Write Terza Rima

As this year of writing together winds down, the Poetry Seven gang is tackling our final form, the terza rima. The Teachers and Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms (Padgett, 2000) defines terza rima in this fashion.
Terza rima is a tumbling, interlocking rhyme scheme that was invented by the thirteenth-century Italian poet Dante for the creation of his long poem, The Divine Comedy.

Terza rima (an Italian phrase meaning "third rhyme") consists of a series of three-line stanzas (tercets) with the rhyme scheme aba bcb cdc ded and so on. It can go on as long as the poet wishes. At the end of the poem an extra line is often added to complete the structure: yzy z.
You can read more on this form at Poets.org.

So, with a form to guide us, we decided to write about something uplifting or hopeful. I'm not sure I managed to meet the theme head on this time, but rather think I've struck a close tangent. It's been hard to feel hope during this protracted election cycle, but I'm trying mightily to stay positive.

Here's the first draft which I wrote last night. Yes, at this point in the semester I'm working on everything at the last minute (much like my students, I imagine). It shows, but I'm glad to be here with my sisters once again.

Untitled Terza Rima
(With apologies to Langston Hughes)

Our world feels broken, bruised beyond repair
the noise, the news, the chaos worse each day
but hope must be our choice and not despair

As clouds around us swell in black and gray
one look reminds us things could be much worse
so we must persevere, must not delay

to treasure all we have, this earth diverse
to fill the hearts we meet with love and trust
to turn this global meltdown in reverse

to show more kindness, fight for what is just
to raise up those who've long been trod upon
to douse hate's sparks before we all combust

Acknowledge this will be a marathon
that change requires strength that’s undeterred
that only faith and hope will move us on

to realize at last our dreams deferred

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2016. All rights reserved.


You can read the poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. Sending hugs to Andi who's not sharing a poem today, but always with us in spirit.
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by one of my poetry sisters, Laura Purdie Salas. Happy poetry Friday friends!

P.S. - I'm celebrating a BIG blogiversary on Sunday, so I hope you'll stop by to join me for some virtual cake and a few fond memories.

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7. mother's day in october

This is the hour of Kenn Nesbitt!  Our former Children's Poet Laureate has worked for more than two years with over 130 poets to produce one of the loveliest anthologies of poetry I've ever held in my hands. (As a contributor, I have already had this pleasure though the book release is not until November 1.) I think one of the big appeals of One Minute Till Bedtime is that it feels distinctly old-fashioned.

The heft of the book, the feel of the dust jacket and the paper inside (smooth but not slick) contribute to this initial sensation.  The hand-chalked title and cover illustration glow forth from a deep purple background.  Christoph Niemann's robust drawings build the feeling--they appear simple and straightforward but they carry (like good writing for children) layers of imagination and emotion.  And the poems inside, not all of which are sleepy or soft by any means, are cozy nonetheless--they speak to the experiences that children have at home, in their early close relationships with people, objects and the creatures of the natural world.  There's no flash, no high-tech, no gloss--just outstanding design and sensitive curation.

In a time of--would you agree with me?--global unrest, when anyone who is paying attention to the Big Picture must carry a sense of unease, this book is somehow comforting and reassuring.  It confirms that the fundamental, ritual experience of going to bed with a story, poem or song shared in the voice of a beloved caregiver is alive and well.

So it's fitting that when Kenn was invited to an interview over at Michelle Heidenrich Barnes's blog, he offered this challenge:
Write a poem for your mother. Write it for your mother and give it to her. It can be any kind of poem you like, as long as it’s especially for her. In my opinion, a poem is the best gift you can ever give someone. It doesn’t cost you anything but a little thought and time, and yet it will be treasured forever.

And fittingly enough, I have just such a gift poem in my archives!  I posted it to the Ditty of the Month Club Padlet and now I share it with you here--a poem about precisely that experience I described above, of being rhymed and rhythmed, thrilled and calmed each morning, noon and night by the voice of my mother, Lila (nee Zingerline) Mordhorst.

A History of Your Voice
Mothers’ Day 2011


this little piggy stayed home
for so long we were
together all the time
together all alone
together all among
open the doors and see all the people

four gray geese in a flock
for so long you listened to every word I
began to say
forgot to say
dared to say
wire briar limber lock

we parted        disintegrated
re  membered    recombined

apple seed and apple thorn
for so long now we are
winding threads
dropping threads
picking up threads
sit and sing by a spring

there were two old Indians crossing the Mississippi
ripping a seam here and there
putting right sides together
stitching further rivers

would you like to hear the rest? 


© Heidi Mordhorst


The round-up for this Poetry Friday is with Linda at TeacherDance.  May you hear today in your travels the voice of someone who spoke to you with love at bedtime--and may we seek that for every child.


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8. Poetry Friday with a review of Make Magic! Do Good!

Writing, both prose and poetry, comes in so many forms. Sometimes we read stories or poems that entertain us, or we choose tales that allow us to escape into another world for a while. At other times we want to engage with a piece of writing in a book that encourages us to think and consider. Today's poetry title is just such a book. Each poem offers up an idea that explores a powerful concept, and that inspires us to think about important and meaningful life messages.

Make Magic! Do Good!Make Magic! Do Good!
Dallas Clayton
Poetry Picture Book
For ages
Candlewick Press, 2012, 978-0-7636-5746-8
Writers create their stories and poems for a number of reasons. For some they have a narrative in their head that they just have to get down on paper. Others see or experience something that they feel the need to describe. Sometimes writers create because they want to make their readers laugh or because they want to teach them about something. Then there are the writers who want to convey a message that they feel their readers need to hear.
   This poetry book fits into the latter category. Dallas Clayton is a person who understands that we all need, at times, to be gently reminded of the things that really matter. For example, did you ever realize that it takes the same amount of effort to think about good things as it does to think about things that are bad? Which means that it takes the same amount of energy to make people sad or to make them happy. So do you want to be the kind of person who covers the walls of a building with angry thoughts about “who’s to blame,” or do you want to create and give away pictures that will make people happy instead.
   In her poem Try! the author exhorts us to do all kinds of things like “ride in a helicopter,” “tame a whale,” or “race / up to outer space.” It is possible that we might fail in our attempts, but we should try anyway.
   In another poem, one called Real Live Dragon, a narrator tells us about how he or she once found a dragon. The problem is that there are many people out there who just do not appreciate dragons. They want to lock them up, and problems arise when people get jealous and argue over who found the dragon first. The narrator realizes that the only way to keep the dragon would be to keep it hidden, and it does not make sense to do this. After all, what is the point of having something as ‘cool’ as a dragon if “there’s no one else / there to share it?”
   This carefully created poetry collection offers readers a great deal to think about. Sometimes a poem needs to be read a few times to capture the full meaning therein, but as the words sink in and thoughts coalesce, readers will come to appreciate what the author is saying, and her words will stick with them as they go about their day.
 
 


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9. One Minute till Bedtime: 60-Second Poems to Send You off to Sleep


Guess what came in the mail a couple of days ago? A copy of a great new poetry anthology titled One Minute Till Bedtime: 60-Second Poems to Send You Off to Sleep. The poems were selected by former Children's Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt and the illustrations were done by Christoph Niemann. The anthology includes more than one hundred selections--many by some of our most respected children's poets, including Nikki Grimes, Jack Prelutsky, Ron Koertge, Lee Bennett Hopkins, J. Patrick Lewis, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Marilyn Singer, Mary Ann Hoberman, Julie Larios, X. J. Kennedy, Pat Mora, Nancy Willard, Jane Yolen, Janet Wong, Joyce Sidman...and Kenn Nesbitt. There are so many other poets whose works are included that I just can't list them all!

I am so happy to tell you that one of my poems is included in this wonderful book—which has already garnered three starred reviews!



* "These pithy poetic observations and Niemann's engaging illustrations prove at once antidote and anodyne for the sleep-averse child demanding just one more....A dreamy collection of bedtime poems and witty illustrations that's anything but sleepy."Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "With a broad range of voices and sentiments, the collection delivers poems to meet any mood."Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Exuberant for the most part (with some serious musings to lend ballast) and in perfect harmony with its cartoonish, color-washed illustrations, this sleepy-time volume is just the thing for the rhyme-loving child who has graduated from Mother Goose."School Library Journal, starred review


One Minute till Bedtime is due for release on November 1, 2016. 
It would make an excellent holiday gift for parents of young children...and for kids who love poetry. I'm planning to order several more copies to give as baby and Christmas presents.



NOTE: Not all the poems in this anthology are about bedtime. They touch on various and sundry topics. Titles of some of the poems: A Hard Rain, The Dandelion, Our Kittens, Skateboard Girl, The Tadpole Bowl, A Visit to the Forest, Me and My Feet, and Armadillo.

The poems are divided into six sections--each of which begins with a poem by Nesbitt.

The first poem in One Minute till Bedtime is Whew!, Nesbitt's list poem in which a child tells us all the things he/she has to before being able to enjoy reading a book.

Here is how the poems ends:

Telephoned
my gramps and grammas.
Changed into 
my soft pajamas.
Fluffed the pillows.
Got my Ted.
Said my prayers.
Climbed in bed.
All that's done;
at last I'm freed.
Finally,
it's time to read.

And here is my contribution to One Minute till Bedtime:



Chirping in the dark, their song
Resonates
In the still air. A
Chorus of summer night strummers in concert with
Katydids
Entertaining warm evenings with
Their
Symphony of wings.

***************

Linda has the Poetry Friday Roundup at TeacherDance.

 


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10. Poetry Friday with a review of Animal School: What Class are You?

I have been reviewing books since the early 2000's and over the years I have noticed changes taking place in the children's book world. These changes include the rise of ebooks, the growth of the graphic novel world, and the advancement of what I call nonfiction poetry. These days poets are using their writings to both entertain and educate their readers, teaching them about history, science, geography and other subjects through their poems.

Today's poetry book is just such a nonfiction poetry title. It helps young readers to get to know the animal family that we humans belong to.

Animal School: What Class Are You?Animal School: What Class are You?
Michelle Lord
Illustrated by Michael Garland
Nonfiction Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Holiday House, 2014, 978-0-8234-3045-1
We humans belong to a group of animals called vertebrates. All the animals in this group have spines, and they are divided up into what are called “classes.” The classes that belong in the vertebrates group are mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Some fly and some swim, some have fur, while others have skin, scales, or feathers. The number of vertebrate species that live on earth is enormous, and they are very diverse, but they are all nevertheless connected because they have a string of bones running down their back.
   In this splendid poetry picture book, the author uses poems to introduce us to the classes of animals that belong to the vertebrate family. She begins with the reptiles, telling us what makes reptiles special. We learn, for example, that turtles rely on the sun to warm them up, and when they need to “chill out” they find some cool mud to dig into. Reptiles are interesting because they can either lay eggs or give birth to live young. Many reptiles, like cobras, leave their babies to fend for themselves, but some adopt a different strategy. Alligator mothers are very protective of their young, and when their babies are very small the large and fearsome looking mamas carry them around in their mouths.
   We next move on to fish. These animals are able to get oxygen from the water that they swim in. They have smooth skin that is sometimes “cloaked / in flaky scales,” and are cold-blooded animals, like reptiles.
   The next class the author explores in the one we humans belong to; the mammals. Unlike reptiles, fish, and amphibians, mammals are warm-blooded and they always give birth to live young. Most of them get about on legs and they have “stick-out ears,” which none of the other vertebrates have.
   The author then goes on to tell us about birds, creatures with “hollow bones” and “Feathers that take them / through the sky.” Amphibians follow. Though these animals come in many shapes and sizes, they are have to be born in water, and most need to be in or around water their entire lives.
   This book helps children to better understand the family of animals that they belong to. They will see how the animals in the classes are different and yet also the same, and how they have adapted to occupy the niches that they live in. On the pages readers will see pictures of tadpoles and frogs, a rabbit, a sea horse, an iguana, a congregation of alligators and more. They will see the marvelous variety that can be found in our invertebrate family.

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11. TRUMP: A Verse about the Worst EVER Presidential Nominee


I do try to remain apolitical on Wild Rose Reader--but I have had it with the Republican nominee for president. So, I wrote a little verse about him. I hope he doesn't sue me!
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 TRUMP: A Verse about the Worst EVER Presidential Nominee

With roadkill for hair and a pumpkin-colored face,
Could Donald Trump WIN the Presidential race?
He’s braggart, a blowhard, a rich old buffoon
Who lives a sheltered life in his Trump Tower cocoon.
He’s a bigot…a racist…a misogynist—
And let’s also add “big fat liar” to the list!
Does a grabber…a groper…a tongue-down-the-throater
Really appeal to the American voter?

**********

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Triciahas the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.


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12. Halloween Poems for Kids




It’s time for Halloween poetry! Here are some of my elementary students’ favorites poems about the holiday:

MR. MACKLIN'S JACK O’LANTERN
by David McCord

Mr. Macklin takes his knife
And carves the yellow pumpkin face:
Three holes bring eyes and nose to life,
The mouth has thirteen teeth in place.
Then Mr. Macklin just for fun
Transfers the corn-cob pipe from his
Wry mouth to Jack’s, and everyone
Dies laughing!

Click here to read the rest of the poem.
(From ONE AT A TIME—Little, Brown, 1974)

ON HALLOWEEN
by Aileen Fisher

We mask our faces
and wear strange hats
and moan like witches
and screech like cats
and jump like goblins
and thump like elves
and almost manage
to scare ourselves.

( From OUT IN THE DARK AND DAYLIGHT—Harper & Row, 1980)

LOOK AT THAT!
by Lilian Moore

Look at that!
Ghosts lined up
at the laundromat,
all around the
block.

Each has
bleach
and some
detergent.
Each one seems to
think it
urgent

to take a spin
in a
washing machine

before the
clock
strikes
Halloween!

(From SEE MY LOVELY POISON IVY—Atheneum, 1975)


THE WITCHES’ RIDE
by Karla Kuskin

Over the hills
Where the edge of the light
Deepens and darkens
To ebony night,
Narrow hats high
Above yellow bead eyes,
The tatter-haired witches
Ride through the skies.
Over the seas
Where the flat fishes sleep
Wrapped in the slap of the slippery deep,
Over the peaks
Where the black trees are bare,
Where bony birds quiver
They glide through the air.
Silently humming
A horrible tune,
They sweep through the stillness
To sit on the moon.

(From DOGS & DRAGONS, TREES & DREAMS—Harper & Row, 1980)

pumpkin
by Valerie Worth

After its lid
is cut, the slick
Seeds and stuck
Wet strings
Scooped out,
walls scraped
Dry and white,
Face carved, candle
Fixed and lit,

Light creeps
into the thick
Rind: giving
That dead orange
Vegetable skull
Warm skin, making
A live head
To hold its
Sharp gold grin.

(From ALL THE SMALL POEMS—Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1987)



**********

Triciahas the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.



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13. It's All about Autumn Leaves!


<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->It’s “yellow time.” October has arrived! Soon the leaves around here will turn golden and red and orange…and swirl down from trees in an autumn breeze. How I love this time of year.

Today, I have two poems about autumn leaves…and reviews of three picture books on the same subject.

***************

Here is an autumn leaves poem that I wrote many years ago:

AUTUMN CELEBRATION 

In October, colored leaves
Fall from oak and maple trees—
Bright confetti shaken down
From their boughs. All over town
Trees are celebrating fall,
Decorating every wall,
Sidewalk, yard, and flowerbed
With pumpkin-orange, gold, and red.
We stand out in the falling leaves
And catch confetti on our sleeves,
In our hands and in our hair. 
We party till the trees are bare.


AUTUMN LEAVES
By Eve Merriam

Down
down
down

Red
yellow
brown

Autumn leaves tumble down,
Autumn leaves crumble down,
Autumn leaves bumble down,
Flaking and shaking,
Tumbledown leaves.

Click here to read the rest of the poem.


*************** 

YELLOW TIME
Written & illustrated by Lauren Stringer
Beach Lane Books, 2016

I have been an admirer of Lauren Stringer’s picture book art for years. I love how she captured the essence of a snowy day and evening in Cynthia Rylant’s SNOW (Harcourt, 2008) and the warmth and coziness of time spent indoors on a cold winter day and night in her book WINTER IS THE WARMEST SEASON (Harcourt, 2006).

In her newest book, YELLOW TIME, Stringer gives readers a colorful glimpse of “falling leaves” time of year. Stringer said that she first experienced “yellow time” when she moved from New York City to Minneapolis. She said the view of ash trees through her window “was suddenly transformed by a huge gust of wind into a rain of leaves that covered everything and turned the world yellow.” Stringer beautifully captures that experience through a childhood perspective. Many of the book’s illustrations are saturated with yellow. She uses soft, curving shapes to depict tree tops, boughs and tree trunks bending in the wind, the movements of children delighting in the fluttering and swirling and whooshing of leaves borne through the air on an autumn wind. 
Stringer’s text is spare. She uses her art to illuminate what “yellow time” is all about. It is a true celebration of that wondrous time of year that passes all too quickly.  Her book is a “symphony of yellow.”

********************

FLETCHER AND THE FALLING LEAVES
Written by Julia Rawlinson
Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
Greenwillow, 2006

It’s autumn. Fletcher, a young fox, notices that the world around him is changing. Every morning things seem “just a little bit different.”

The rich green of the forest was turning to a dusty gold, and the soft, swishing
sound of summer was fading to a crinkly whisper.

Fletcher becomes worried when his favorite tree begins to look dry and brown. He thinks the tree is sick and expresses concern to his mother. His mother explains that it’s “only autumn” and not to worry. Fletcher runs outside, pats his tree, and tells it that it will feel better soon.

Of course, the leaves on the tree continue to turn brown and fall from the branches. Fletcher catches a falling leaf and reattaches it to his tree--but the wind shakes the leaf loose again.

The next day, a strong wind blows through the forest, and the tree’s leaves are set flying. Fletcher’s upset when he sees a squirrel taking leaves for its nest and a porcupine using the fallen leaves to keep itself warm. Try as he might, Fletcher cannot save his tree from the inevitable. Finally, he clutches the last leaf as it flutters from the tree and takes it home--where he tucks it into a little bed of its own.

The following morning, Fletcher is awed by the sight of his tree, which is now hung with thousands of icicles shimmering in the early morning light. He wonders, though, if the tree is okay and asks: “But are you all right?” Fletcher is relieved when a breeze shivers the branches and the tree makes “a sound like laughter…” The little fox then hugs his tree and returns to his den for a “nice, warm breakfast.”

Fletcher and the Falling Leaveshas a longer, more lyrical text than Oliver Finds His Way. Beeke’s soft-edged pastel illustrations capture the tone and setting of this comforting story and deftly convey the change of seasons as autumn turns to winter.
***************

THE LITTLE YELLOW LEAF
Written & illustrated by Carin Berger
Greenwillow, 2008

Carin Berger, who did the “bold” and brilliant collage illustrations for Jack Prelutsky’s Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant, hits a high note again with her art in The Little Yellow Leaf. Her illustrations in this book are inventive and striking. Berger even used composition and graph paper as the backdrop for some of her pictures. Her spare illustrations with changing perspectives and her lovely lyrical text partner well in this tale about finding strength in friendship.

The main character of this little allegory is a “Little Yellow Leaf.” It’s autumn. The LYL clings to a branch of “a great oak tree.” I’m not ready yet, thought the Little Yellow Leaf as a riot of fiery leaves chased and swirled round the tree.” No, the leaf isn’t ready to leave its home in the tree--even as the afternoon sun beckons--even…

as apples grew musky,
pumpkins heavy,
and flocks of geese
took wing.


Even when LYL sees that the other leaves have “gathered into heaps, crackly dry, where children played,” it isn’t willing to join them. And it still it isn’t ready to leave its home when a harvest moon blooms in an “amber” sky.

LYL holds fast to its branch through a long, cold night when snow falls. It holds fast as days pass. It looks and looks at the tree--but sees only the “shimmer of snow.” LYL is all alone. At least that’s what it thinks…until one day it spies a “scarlet flash” high up in the tree. It has a comrade! Both had been hesitant to cast off for the unknown. The Little Yellow Leaf and the Scarlet Leaf take courage in each other…set themselves free and soar.

Into the waiting wind they danced…
off and away and away and away.
Together.


***************

Violet Nesdoly has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.

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14. Poetry Friday with a review of Applesauce Weather

Every September I look forward to fall. I am eager for cooler days, rain (after weeks and weeks of dry weather), and the treats that the fall season brings. Apples, pears and pumpkins start to appear in the farmer's market, and I start thinking about making apple and pumpkin breads and coffee cakes. It is a time of change and new beginnings for me.

Today's poetry title tells the story of a young girl whose uncle has suffered a great loss, and who comes to visit her and her family as the apples are starting to fall from the tree in their yard. For him this is a time for reflection, and though he does not know it at first, it is also a time for new bittersweet beginnings.

Applesauce WeatherApplesauce weather
Helen Frost
Illustrated by Amy June Bates
Poetry
For ages 8 to 10
Candlewick Press, 2016, 978-0-7636-7576-9
Faith has been waiting for this day, the day when the first apple falls from the apple tree that Aunt Lucy planted all those years ago. Over the years Uncle Arthur and Aunt Lucy would always arrive at Faith’s house on this day. Somehow they always knew when the first apple fell. Then Aunt Lucy died and Faith’s parents and brother believe that maybe Uncle Arthur will not come this year. Little Faith does not lose hope though. She waits for Uncle Arthur.
   At his home Uncle Arthur thinks about his beloved Lucy and remembers how his wife always knew when the first apple had fallen, when it was time to gather with the family to pick apples and make applesauce. He does not know if he can bear to go without her, or if the family is even expecting him.
   Faith’s big brother Peter thinks Faith is being silly. She should give up waiting and accept that Uncle Arthur is not coming. Then, to everyone’s surprise, Faith’s faith in Uncle Arthur is rewarded, and in the evening of that day the old man arrives.
   Every year Faith asks Uncle Arthur what happened to his missing finger - he only has four and half fingers on his right hand – and every year he tells her another story (a tall story) of what happened to his finger. This year he seems reluctant to tell the stories so beloved by everyone in the family. This year he is quieter. He is wrapped up in the memories of the times he shared with the girl and woman who became his wife. He remembers how he and Lucy, who were neighbors, became friends, and how their friendship grew into love when they were teenagers. He looks at the house where she used to live and remembers how he used to wait at night to see a light blinking in her window, which was her message telling him that she loved him.
   Faith seems to know that Uncle Arthur is feeling lost and so she holds his hand, the one missing half a finger, and she says nothing. Faith wonders if her uncle has no more stories to tell but she does not ask. Instead, she walks down the road with him every day and she tells him that Peter is sweet on the girl who is living in the house that Lucy lived in all those years ago. Once again a boy in her house, Uncle Arthur’s old house, is falling for a girl who lives in the house a few doors down. Uncle Arthur smiles and he starts to tell them a story, a true story about how he got a knife when he was Peter’s age and how he used the knife to carve his initials, and Lucy’s, into the bark of the apple tree. The initials are still there.
   The apples start ripening “faster / than we can pick them” and Faith and Peter go to the tree to collect as many as they can. Uncle Arthur then indicates, in his own way, that a story is in the offing and so Faith sits with him on the bench under the tree and asks the question that they have all been afraid to ask: “what happened to your finger?”
   This wonderful story is told from the points of view of Faith, Peter, and Uncle Arthur. We also hear from Aunt Lucy, who gives us a wonderful picture of what her life with Uncle Arthur had been like. The narrative is presented in the form of rhyming and blank verse poems, and we are taken on a journey that spans decades, and also on a journey that encompasses a few autumn days when the apples are ripening. We see, through the words of Faith, Peter and Uncle Arthur, how healing after a loss can begin and how there is much joy to be found in stories. Sometimes these stories help us to connect with the people who are no longer with this, making it possible for us to stay linked to them.

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15. Poetry Friday: Arlequin


Arlequin by by René de Saint-Marceaux
 photographed at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Lyon, France,
by Kelly Ramsdell


Who is that masked man? I thought I knew. I'd seen him before. Replicas of this statue are all over Amazon, ebay, and auction sites. A version even appeared on The Antique Roadshow.

If you get a chance to watch that video, it gives some background on the original marble sculpture---which I cannot find images of online-- as well as info about the various bronze and plaster casts (in various sizes) that have been made from it, such as the one Kelly snapped a photo of in Lyon.

What I didn't know was how complicated the history of the Arlequin (Harlequin) character was. For one thing, he began as a dark-faced devil character in French passion plays--yes, sadly, as another portrayal of a black man as a demon. His clothes were a slave's rags and patches before they evolved into a more orderly diamond pattern, and he was part of the tradition of blackface clowning in minstrel theater. I think his half mask may be the last remnant of that.

Much of that history is obscured, however, because the Harlequin also became a popular member of the zanni or comic servant characters in the Italian Commedia dell’Arte. There, his trope became one of a clever servant who thwarts his master...and courts his lady love with wit and panache. We might recognize bits of him today in our modern romantic hero.

So. That's a lot of stuff packed into one stock character. More than I could handle in one poem. In the end, I wrote what I saw reflected back in his eyes --- but I'm curious: how would you describe what YOU see in him?



Arlequin

A stock character 
takes stock of his life:
always tasked

by the master 
always masked
from his true love

always asked
to repeat
the same lines.

—-and yet—
We never master
our taste for sharp

laughter; 
we are unmasked 
by it, we ask

with applause
for Love in tricked
out plaster, cast

marble to actor;
same lines;
new disaster.

       ----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

My poetry sisters all wrote about what they saw in our masked man. Find their poems here:

Tricia
Andi (sitting this one out. See you next time, Andi!)

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Violet


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16. Poetry Seven Write Poems for Arlequin

This month the poetry gang wrote poems to images selected by Kelly. The piece is by René de Saint-Marceaux and is titled Arlequin. Kelly took the photos at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Lyon, France.
 
 Photographs © Kelly Fineman

I've been experimenting the last few weeks with the Magic 9, a relatively new 9-line poetic form. Here's what the Poets Garret wrote about its invention.
Typing too fast is often the cause of spelling mistakes and one day Abracadabra was typed as abacadaba and right away a poetry form appeared. 
So the Magic 9 is a 9-line poem with a rhyme scheme of: a/b/a/c/a/d/a/b/a.

This piece creeped me out just a bit. In my brainstorming and early drafts I wrote about Zorro, the Phantom of the Opera, Batman, and a few other masked men. This is what I ended up with.

As You Wish

Masked men have always frightened me
the Dread Pirate Roberts the only exception
I can get behind a little piracy
a nom de guerre and a ship named Revenge
swashbuckling his way into infamy
all for the want of a woman
dreams of Buttercup kept him at sea
leading a life of deception
until love brought him home, set him free

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2016. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. Andi's been under the weather, so she's not sharing a poem today. Here's hoping she's feeling much better now. She's with us in spirit and we'll happily welcome her back for our next poetry challenge.
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today at Violet Nesdoly's placeHappy poetry Friday friends!

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17. POETRY FRIDAY: Wild Geese

 
 
I often find it difficult to capture an image/idea that I have in my mind in words. Autumn is the time of year when I hear the honking of geese that are heading south for winter. I have tried over the years to write a poem about migrating geese—but I have never been really satisfied with the results. Here are two versions of a “wild geese” poem that I wrote. The first was written several years ago; the second was written earlier this year.
 
One Poem Two Ways
 
WILD GEESE #1
 
So long…farewell. We’re on our way.
We must depart. We can’t delay
Our journey to a warmer clime.
Mother Nature warned: “It’s time!”
We’re heading south before the snow…
And winter winds begin to blow.
We leave you with our parting call—
Honk! Honk! Honk!
That’s the sound of fall.
 
WILD GEESE #2
 
So long…farewell. We’re on our way.
We must depart. We can’t delay
Our journey to a warmer clime.
Mother Nature warned, “It’s time!”
Days grow shorter. Trees grow bare.
Pumpkins fatten. Frost nips the air.
We know the signs. It’s time to go
Before the sky fills up with snow.
But we’ll return again next year
When we can sense that spring is near.
We leave you with our parting call—
Honk! Honk! Honk! That’s the sound of fall.
 ***************
 
Here is one of my favorite fall poems:
 
Something Told the Wild Geese
by Rachel Field, 1894-1942
 
Something told the wild geese
It was time to go,
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, "snow."

Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned, "frost."
 
Click here to read the rest of the poem.
 
***************

Cari Best wrote a touching picture book about a wounded goose that landed in her backyard. It is based on her own experience. A photograph of the one-footed goose is included on the title page. The book was beautifully illustrated by the late Holly Meade.
 
 
From the title page:
“Goose’s story is true. She came on a Sunday. We could only guess about how she’d hurt her foot…Whatever it was, the goose with one foot became our spring and then our summer that year. Who would have thought she’d become our inspiration for all times, too.”
Booklist gave Goose’s Story a starred review. Here is an excerpt from that review:
“Best's simple prose is rhythmic and beautiful, more poetic than much of the so-called free verse in many children's books; and Meade's clear, cut-paper collages show the drama through the child's eyes--the clamor of the flock against the New England landscape through the seasons; the honking and jumping for the sky; and one goose left behind, wild and beautiful, hurt, and strong.”
Unfortunately, the book is now out of print—but you may be able to find it in your public or school library…or a used copy from an online bookseller
 ***************
A Family Movie about Migrating Geese
My five-year-old granddaughter Julia likes Fly Away Home, a 1996 movie starring Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin. Julia and I have watched the movie together a few times.
NOTE: (Fly Away Home won the 1997 Broadcast Film Critics Association Critics Choice Award as the Best Family Film, the 1997 Christopher Award (for family films), 1997 Young Artist Award in the category of Best Family Feature – Drama, and the 1997 Genesis Award for Feature Films.)
Fly Away Home movie trailer:
 Mary Chapin Carpenter—10,000 Miles
Something Told the Wild Geese (Ann Arbor Youth Chorale)
Mary Oliver reading her poem Wild Geese
 
***************
 
Karen Edmisten has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.
 


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18. Poetry Friday with a review of Rufus and Friends School Days

Over the years I have encountered several poetry collections where poets have take other people's writings and have changed them in little ways to make them accessible for young readers. Often the changes add touches of humor to the poems. In today's poetry title, Iza Trapani does this to great effect, taking young readers into the school life of a little dog character.

Rufus and Friends: School DaysRufus and Friends: School Days
Iza Trapani
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Charlesbridge, 2010, 978-1-58089-249-0
It is a rainy day, Rufus is off to school, and he “can’t wait,” because “My teacher and my friends are great.” As he hops on the school bus he invites us to join him. When they arrive at school the little dog children march into the building and head to their classrooms, though Rufus has to pause for a moment “to suck his thumb.”
   Once Rufus and his friends are in their classroom they begin their day. They have a “busy day” ahead full of writing, reading, drawing, and will learn “some things worth knowing.”
   Presiding over the classroom is a “neat little clock” which “points to the time / With its two little hands.” The clock always has a clean face and those hands are always ready “To do what is right.” One can hope that the children in the class will have similarly clean faces and ready hands, but sometimes things do not go “as we planned” and the students, despite all their good intentions, end up with paint and glue in unexpected places.
   After several hours of laboring away, the children have lunch, which is most unappetizing, and then they go outside to play. The children jump rope, throw a ball around, or play on the swings and slide, but Joan, who loves “books a lot” finds a spot under a tree to read a book. With a book in hand Joan never feels alone.
   In Mrs. Alegro’s music class the children have a grand time playing musical instruments of all kinds. Tom-Tom is a wonderful flute player and he tootles away to the delight of his classmates. Later, in the library, the children are not as well behaved as they should be. They talk, wriggle, and giggle. They are rambunctious and the librarian is not at all happy.
   In this splendid poetry picture book Iza Trapani presents children with some traditional poems which she has “extended” in creative ways. Taking us through the school day, she gives us familiar poems such as One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, and songs such as The Ants go Marching. There are also poems that children may not be familiar with, but which offer readers wonderful opportunities to enjoy the written and spoken word.

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19. POETRY FRIDAY: Sun and Moon Poems


In early May, I sent out a collection of mask poems to a publisher. The collection takes the reader through the day on a farm. Most of the poems are written in pairs (mare and foal, father sheep and lamb, cows and bull, mother duck and ducklings). A couple of weeks ago, I received a rejection via email. The editors, however, gave me hope that they would like to see more of my work. They wrote: Lovely language, especially our favorite, Mother Duck. Does not fit our needs right now. Please keep us in mind for future projects. 

I have a trusted poet friend who did a critique on the manuscript for me. After speaking with her, I have decided to do some revisions. I have already cut the first and last poems as I feel they are unnecessary…and add little to the collection.

I decided to post those two poems for Poetry Friday this week.


SUN

I’ll arise and brighten the sky.
I’ll bid the night and dark goodbye.
I’ll shine
shine
shine…
and light the way
for arrival of a brand new day.


MOON

Now that the sun has left the sky.
It’s time for ME to shine on high…
To spread my gentle pearly light
For all the creatures of the night.

***************

Penny has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Penny and Her Jots.


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20. Poetry Friday with a review of What a day it was at school!

For many children a new school year has started and they are getting used to new schedules and teachers, and making new friends. When they get home many children chatter away busily, telling their grownups about the things that they did during the day.

In today's poetry picture book you will meet a little cat who has some wonderful school stories to share with his mother when he gets home.

What a day it was at school!
What a Day It Was at School!Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Doug Cushman
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
HarperCollins, 2009, 978-0060823375
The school day is over and the little cat heads home. When he gets there, he and his mother sit at the table and the little cat has some milk and cookies. As he sips and snacks, the little cat tells his mother about his day, the details of which are all noted down in his journal. Now the journal is full of stories and commentaries that we get to read.
   In the first one we get to hear about how put upon the young cat feels because his “backpack weighs a thousand pounds.” Sometimes it is so heavy that he tips backwards and has to stop and rest by leaning against a wall. No matter how much he pleads, his teacher refuses to let him “lighten” his load.
   In another entry we hear about how the cat and his friends had a loud and rambunctious time making music together. They shook maracas, beat drums, tooted on kazoos, and played every noisy percussive instrument that they could get their paws on. They had a wonderful time, and to them the sounds they made were “so sweet.”
   The cat also tells us about a field trip that he went on the day before. This year the field trip was “really special” because they visited a factory “To watch candy being made / And saw a million lollipops / On colorful parade.” They saw so many fabulous things, and got lots of samples to try. One can only imagine what the experience was like for their teacher and for the people who worked at the factory.
  During library time the little cat read a book about knights. Having a powerful imagination he began to imagine that he was the one who was a “knight / On a powerful steed.” He would be the kind of fellow who would “conquer a dragon” and “vanquish a troll.”
   Children are going to thoroughly enjoy this collection of poems. Each poem is accompanied by amusing illustrations, and together they capture moments in a little cat’s school day, some of which are everyday sort of events, and some of which are deliciously outrageous.


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21. Poetry Friday - September

Today I'm sharing an aptly titled poem by William Wordsworth.

September
by William Wordsworth

Departing summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling.

No faint and hesitating trill,
Such tribute as to winter chill
The lonely redbreast pays!
Clear, loud, and lively is the din,
From social warblers gathering in
Their harvest of sweet lays.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at The Poem Farm. Happy poetry Friday friends!

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22. Poetry Friday with a review of Somewhere Among

Many adults and children in the Unites States can remember where they were on September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked targets in the United States using commercial airplanes. What we sometimes don't realize is that the ripple effects of the tragedy spread far from our shores to people all over the world, many of whom were profoundly effected by what happened.

Today's title is a novel in blank verse that takes us to Japan where a young girl, a half Japanese and half American girl, is facing a lot of personal problems of her own in the months leading up to the September 11th attacks. The appalling events of that day add to what is already a painful situation, and we see, through her eyes, how violence damages people's ability to hope, and takes away their ability to feel safe.

Somewhere AmongSomewhere Among
Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu
Poetry
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2016, 978-1-4814-3786-8
Ema lives “between two worlds.” Her father is Japanese and her mother is American, and sometimes being “half this / half that” is not easy to manage.  Though her mixed heritage makes her life interesting at times, the fact that she is different also means that at times she feels “alone / on an island / surrounded by multitudes / of people.”
   Every August Ema and her mother go to California for a month to spend time with Ema’s maternal grandparents. This year is going to be different. Ema’s mother is pregnant and it has been a very hard pregnancy with scares and all-day-long morning sickness. Her mother has lost babies in the past and so this time they are going to be very careful, which means that the family is going to go and stay with Ema’s paternal grandparents, Obaachan and Jiichan, until the baby is born. Thanks to these new arrangements Ema will miss six months of fifth grade in her school, she and her Papa will not be having a vacation by the sea, and she and her Mom will not being to California.
   Ema and her parents travel to western Tokyo to Obaachan’s house, and it isn’t long before Obaachan stars fussing, criticizing, and complaining. She likes everything to be just so and she has very strong opinions about how things should be done. Often she does not understand that Ema’s mother, being an American, does things differently. For example, Mom does not like to use bath water that other people have used, and she prefers western cakes to Japanese desserts. The differences between the two women creates tension and this tension only becomes worse when Ema’s father goes back to the city. Commuting to and from his parent’s home simply isn’t going to work and so Ema and her mother are going to have cope being in Obaachan’s world as best they can. Ema often wishes that she and her mom could be back at home, even though home is only a small one-room apartment. At least the TV is not on all day long, and at least there they don’t have to deal with Obaachan and her persnickety, old-fashioned ways.
   The summer is hot and hard on everyone but when school starts things get even harder for Ema. There is a boy at school, Masa, who goes out of his way to make Ema miserable. He hits her, steals the NASA space pen that Grandpa Bob gave her, trips her, and is generally disagreeable as much as possible. Ema is not sure how she is going to cope with this and then something happens that makes everyone forget about the little things. Terrorists attack the Twin Towers in New York City and in two other places. Mom is distraught, Ema is upset, and everyone is in shock over what has happened. Ema, Papa and the grandparents all worry that the anxiety and distress that Ema’s mother is experiencing will hurt the baby. How can all the hurt, both in their home, and in the wider world, not affect them? Ema wants to protect her mother but it would seem that there are some things that she cannot prevent. Sometimes Ema wishes she could escape the world and go out into space where she won’t have to “see or hear or feel / any more sadness.”  

   This remarkable book takes us into the life of a Japanese child whose world is in a state of flux. The things that make her feel safe and secure are taken away from her and then, just to add to her distress, the attacks on 9/11 take place. Written in blank verse, this extraordinary narrative is touching and often painful, but ultimately Ema comes to learn something very valuable that she is able to pass on to the grownups in her life.  Anyone who has had their life disrupted by change and loss will appreciate what Ema goes through.

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23. POETRY FRIDAY: Two Poems about Pledges



PLEDGE
By Elizabeth Powell

Republic, your cool hands
On my schoolgirl shoulders.
Not sure what allegiances meant
Until the vows were held by heart,
By memory, by rote, by benign betrothal.
Republic, you were mine, I knew
Because of Mother’s religious pamphlets:
Lindsay for Mayor.
McGovern for President.
How to Register Voters.
I didn’t ever want to go to school
On Saturdays. The baby-sitter said
If Nixon won, I’d have to go…

Click here to read the rest of the poem.

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flag
by Jacqueline Woodson

When the kids in my class ask why
I am not allowed to pledge to the flag
I tell them It's against my religion but don't say,
I am in the world but not of the world. This,
they would not understand.
Even though my mother's not a Jehovah's Witness,
she makes us follow their rules and
leave the classroom when the pledge is being said.

Every morning, I walk out with Gina and Alina
the two other Witnesses in my class.
Sometimes, Gina says,
Maybe we should pray for the kids inside
who don't know that God said
"No other idols before me." That our God
is a jealous God.


Click here to read the rest of the poem.

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A little history about the Pledge of Allegiance (UShistory.org):

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.
In its original form it read:

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
In 1923, the words, "the Flag of the United States of America" were added. At this time it read:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words "under God," creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy's daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

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Amyhas the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Poem Farm.

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24. POETRY FRIDAY: A Little Autumn Poetry


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The weather can change fast in September in New England where I live. One day it may be hot and humid with the temperature rising into the mid to high eighties. The next day, the temperature can dip into the low sixties...or fifties.

I love this time of year in New England—especially as summer gives way to autumn and the leaves begin to change color…and the days are drier and cooler.

Yesterday, I was reading through some of my old poetry files that I hadn’t looked at in a long time. That’s when I found the following “tidbit” of a poem titled September. I have no memory of ever having written it. I thought I’d post it today.

SEPTEMBER

Summer sighs
as it grows old.
The brassy sun
is not so bold.
Nights start to entertain
the cold.


Here is an autumn list poem that I wrote years ago:

AUTUMN

Crickets sighing
Birds goodbying
Pumpkins growing plump and round

Apple picking
Football kicking
Chestnuts thudding on the ground

Bright leaves falling
Wild geese calling
Honeybees huddling in their hive

Trick-or-treating
Turkey eating
Winter’s waiting to arrive

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Here is an excellent book of autumn poems written by Douglas Florian, which I am happy to say, is still in print:

 AUTUMNBLINGS
poems and paintings by Douglas Florian
Greenwillow Books, 2003

Autumnblings is the third in Douglas Florian’s series of seasonal poetry collections. The twenty-nine poems in this book touch on a variety of autumnal topics: apple picking, Indian summer, pumpkins, falling leaves, the first frost, the migration of geese, and Thanksgiving. Readers will find a plethora of short, light-hearted poems that speak about animals and the changes in nature that take place during this season.

As in Winter Eyes, Summersaults, Handsprings and Florian’s collections of animal poems, including Insectlopedia, Beast Feast, Mammalabilia, and In the Swim, there’s also plenty of clever wordplay in Autumnblingsto delight old and young readers alike. The book contains poems with the following titles: HI-BEAR-NATION, AWE-TUMN, and SYMMETREE(Autumn is the only season/The leaves all leave./Call it tree-son.) In his poem BRRRRRRR!, Florian writes about Octobrrrrr’s cold, Novembrrrrr’s chill, and Decembrrrrr’s freeze. In TREE-TICE, Florian speaks of the number of leaves falling from trees--one leaf…then two…then three…and so on. It’s, according to the author, A tree-tice on/Arithmetics.

Autumnblings includes a few shape poems and several list poems with the following titles: What I Love about Autumn, What I Hate about Autumn, The Wind, Birds of Autumn, The Owls, The Colors of Autumn, What to Do with Autumn Leaves, Thanksgiving, and Autumnescent.

The collection concludes with NAUGHTUM, a poem that relates how The trees are bare./The birds have flown…./The leaves fall down/And then get burned,/As autumn slowly gets winturned.

Florian’s illustrations done in watercolor and colored pencils add just the right touch of color and humor to this collection that is a “must have” for elementary classroom library collections.

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Michelle has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Today’s Little Ditty.

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25. Poetry Friday with a review of Beastly Verses

Animal characters play important roles in many children's books, allowing authors to connect with their young readers on many levels. Children begin with Babar the elephant in picture books and work their way up to to the gripping animal-rich adventures in the Redwall novels. Poets also love to write about animals, and in today's poetry title animals of all kinds can be found on the pages to offer children a wonderful poetry-filled book experience.

Beastly VerseBeastly Verse
Poems selected and illustrated by Joohee Yoon
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Enchanted Lion, 2015, 978-1-59270-166-7
Children love poems about animals, especially ones that are about creatures that a big and scary. Over the years poets have chosen to write poems about animals of all kinds, including those that we love to be afraid of. In this collection Joohee Yoon has brought together some of these poems and paired them with her colorful print illustrations.
  We begin with Lewis Carroll’s poem about the “little crocodile” who seems to grin so “cheerfully” and who “neatly spreads his claws.” So friendly does the crocodile seem that it is as if he is welcoming fish to swim into his “gently smiling jaws.”
   Another creature with claws and teeth is a tiger and William Blake’s famous poem about a tiger perfectly captures the awe that the poet feels for the animal that has fire in its eyes. He wonders what “immortal hand” created the tiger’s “fearful symmetry.”
   The mood is lightened in the poem that follows, where we meet a happy hyena. This animal can play the concertina and is very particular about his appearance. A master of sartorial elegance, the hyena even has a flower stuck into his lapel.
   A few pages later we encounter someone who is trying to tell us about an elephant who “tried to use the telephone.” It turns out that a trunk is not the best of appendages to use when one is trying to make a telephone call. It also turns out that the narrator of this poem cannot help getting his or her words frightfully, and hilariously, mixed up.
   For children who fancy having an unusual animal for a pet there is the poem The Yak. In it we hear about how a yak is a perfect pet for young people. After all it “will carry and fetch, you can ride on its back, / Or lead it about with a string.” The Tartars who live in Tibet have been keeping yaks as nursery pets for centuries, so if they can do it why can’t you?
   Animal loving children are sure to love this clever collection of poems. On the pages they will find verses that are often humorous, that offer up wonderful descriptions, and that sometimes give readers cause to pause.


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