What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(from the Editor category)

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 7 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
<<February 2017>>
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
   01020304
05060708091011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728    
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts from the Editor category, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 28,896
1. Picture Book Monday with a review of A Warm Winter

I love seasonal picture books, because I love the way they connect us with what is going on outside at this particular moment. They connect us to a rhythm that is bigger than the one that many of humans seem to follow. Today's picture book takes us into a snowy, wintry landscape that is beautiful and stark. On the pages we meet a determined little mouse who is trying to collect firewood so that he can keep his family warm.

A Warm WinterA warm winter
Feridun Oral
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Minedition, 2015, 978-988-8341-29-0
One cold winter’s day Little Mouse leaves the comfort of his nest to go out into the snow to find some firewood. Trailing his red scarf, which is very long indeed for such a small animal, Little Mouse finds twigs, pinecones and sticks until he has a huge pile.
   Little Mouse ties up the pile with his scarf, rests a little and then he tries to pull his load across the snow. There is no way the pile is going to budge. Little Mouse is just too small to pull so much weight.
   Little Mouse asks his friend Rabbit for her help. Even when they “join forces” they cannot move the massive pile of firewood. The animals then ask Fox if they can borrow his sled, which he is quite happy to lend them. The firewood is piled on the sled and they all start pulling, but “the pile simply would not budge.”
   There is only one thing left to do; the animals are going to have to wake up Bear to ask for his help. The weather is getting bad and if they don’t get indoors soon everything will soon be buried.
   Bear, being a good fellow, is happy to help his friends, even though they woke him up. Together the four animals pull and pull until something very unexpected happens.
   This wonderful snowy picture book celebrates friendship, and shows to great effect how wonderful it is when people (or animals) work together to help one another.

Add a Comment
2. Holiday Greetings


Add a Comment
3. Poetry Friday with a review of Over the Hills and Far Away: A treasury of Nursery Rhymes

Like many children I got to experience nursery rhymes when I was little, often when I was sitting in someones lap. I was lucky because I was bilingual, and so I was given the gift of rhymes that were written in English and in French. In English many of the rhymes were from Mother Goose collections. The French books contained French nursery rhymes that many English speakers do not normally get to read. What I love about today's poetry book is that the editor has brought together nursery rhymes from all over the world. She thus allows us to experience rhymes that we have probably never heard before.

Over the Hills and Far Away: A Treasury of Nursery RhymesOver the Hills and Far Away: A treasury of Nursery Rhymes
Collected by Elizabeth Hammill
Illustrated by more than 70 celebrated artists
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Candlewick Press, 2014, 978-0-7636-7729-9
Many people living in Britain or the United States have grown up with a copy of Mother Goose’s rhymes on their bookshelf. The interesting thing is that often the rhymes one finds in these two countries are different in some ways, and yet the feel of the rhymes is the same. When you then look in other countries where English is spoken, you find other versions of Mother Goose rhymes that have taken on the flavors of the cultures in those countries.
   In addition to these Mother Goose verses, there are nursery rhymes that are unique to the countries where they were written and that capture the essence of the history and traditions in those countries
   In this collection Elizabeth Hammill brings together Mother Goose rhymes from around the world and presents them alongside rhymes that are African, Asian, Caribbean, Native-American, and Hispanic to give readers a truly diverse and rich nursery rhyme experience.
   Throughout the book the poems are paired with artwork that was created by seventy-seven artists from the English-speaking world. Some of the artists have been working in their chosen field for a long time, while others are newcomers to the illustration stage. All of the artwork was donated to this book project by the artists to support Seven Stories, Britain’s National Centre for Children’s Books.
   Our nursery rhyme journey begins with a short Native American verse which is then followed by an African nursery rhyme that captures a mother’s love for her baby. There are other mothers, the mother in the poem says, who would “like to have you for her child,” but they cannot have the baby because the precious child is “mine.” Many of the poems that follow celebrate a mother’s love for her child or baby, while others are nonsense poems, counting poems, poems about animals, poems about places, and poems that tell a story.
   This is a wonderful book to share with children, but it is also the kind of book that offers adults the opportunity to explore the world of nursery rhymes both historically and geographically. Readers are able to see how different cultures use words to comfort, amuse, and delight their children.
  
  


Add a Comment
4. Picture Book Monday with a review of The Christmas Eve Tree

Christmas is less than a week away, and people all over the world are putting up and decorating their Christmas trees. There is something magical about seeing a tree, decorated with tinsel and ornaments, its lights shining in the darkness. Today's picture book is about a Christmas tree that ends up lightning up Christmas for those who need the light the most.

The Christmas Eve TreeThe Christmas Eve Tree
Delia Huddy
Illustrated by Emily Sutton
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Candlewick Press, 2015, 978-0-7636-7917-0
Years ago a grove of Christmas trees was planted. One of the little fir trees was blown sideways into its neighbor by the wind and did not grow properly. When the trees were harvested the little fir tree, which was “stunted” and “tangled with its neighbor” was taken to the big city. The other trees were bought and placed in a cathedral, in the middle of a square, on the stage “at a grand Christmas ball,” and in private homes where children and their families decorated them for the festive season. The little fir tree and its bigger partner ended up in a store. On Christmas Eve the big tree was bought and taken away and the little fir tree was now all alone.
   A poor boy came into the shop to warm up and he asked a store clerk, who was about to throw away the little tree, if he could have it. The clerk “handed it over,” and some time later the boy, with the tree ‘planted’ in a cardboard box full of beach mud, was sitting under the arch of a railway bridge, in the large cardboard box that served as his home. With a coin that a passerby dropped in his hat the boy bought some candles and matches and he decorated the little tree with the candles, creating a little pool of Christmas spirit in a rather bleak place.
   The boy was joined by other homeless people and a tree performer and soon they were all sharing Christmas songs, which drew more and more people to the little tree. Though the tree’s surroundings were very humble, it felt as if it would “burst with happiness” because for a while the hard circumstances of the boy’s life did not matter. For a while the tree gave the boy and many other people joy.
   In this beautiful picture book readers will find a story that is sure to become a firm favorite with readers of all ages. This is the kind of book that families will keep on their shelf and bring out every holiday season to share and enjoy.

Add a Comment
5. Poetry Friday with a review of Love that dog

When I first saw this book on a shelf in the library I thought it was going to be about a dog, which is a natural assumption to make I think. A dog does play a role in the narrative, but the story is really about a boy's relationship with (and discovery of) poetry. It is a fabulous book, a powerful book, a sometimes funny book, and I think readers of all ages will appreciate it.

Love That DogLove that Dog
Sharon Creech
Poetry
For ages 8 to 12
HarperCollins, 2001, 978-0060292874
Jack is in Miss Stretchberry’s class and he is not happy because she is expecting her students to write a poem. Everyone knows that girls write poems. It is a girly kind of thing to do. After claiming that his “Brain’s empty,” Jack finally condescends to write a poem about a blue car speeding down a road. He is rather put out when his teacher comments on how something is missing in his poem. If Robert Frost can leave his poems incomplete why can’t he?
   Miss Stretchberry then asks Jack to write a poem about a pet. Jack does not have a pet anymore and he does not want to write about the dog that he had. We can sense that doing so will be painful for Jack, and yet the boy does end up writing a description of how the yellow dog became a member of his family; how they got him from the animal shelter and saved him from being euthanized, which is what happens to the shelter dogs that are not adopted. Miss Stretchberry asks Jack if she can type up his poem about the yellow dog and share it with the class. He decides that she can if she wants to, though she cannot put her name on the piece.
   Next Miss Stretchberry introduces Jack and his classmates to concrete poems and these he likes a lot. In fact he even tries to create one called My Yellow Dog, and he arranges the words so that they look like a picture of dog on the page. Miss Stretchberry asks if she can type up his poem again and this time Jack is willing to let her put his name on it, which is a new development.
   Inspired by a poem that he loves that was written by Walter Dean Myers, Jack writes another poem about his dog Sky, and in it he captures the joy the dog brings into his life. It is a poem from the heart and Jack cannot help feeling pleased when his teacher shares it with the class again.
   When Miss Stretchberry suggests that Jack should write to Walter Dean Myers, Jack is appalled. Why would a famous writer like hearing from a kid? Surely he would prefer to hear from a teacher “who uses big words / and knows how / to spell / and / to type.” In the end Jack writes the letter, with many apologies to Walter Dean Myers for taking up his time. Jack even invites the writer to come to his school.
   As he waits to hear from Walter Dean Myers, Jack’s journey into the world of poetry progresses. He starts learning how to type and finally he writes (and then types up) a poem about what happened to Sky, though he is not sure about putting his name on it.
   This remarkable book takes us through a school year with a boy called Jack. As the months go by we see how this boy, who wants nothing to do with poetry at first, starts to appreciate the way words in poems can capture moments and feelings in a fresh and different way. Slowly, like a flower opening, he tries writing his own poems. By the time we leave Jack, with his memories of Sky, he is a very different child, and we, as witnesses to his journey of exploration, can celebrate the changes that have taken place in him. 

Add a Comment
6. Picture Book Monday with a review of The Wish Tree

This is the time of year when children all over the world hold their wishes close, hoping that Santa, Father Christmas, or St. Nicholas will be able to read the wishes in their hearts and make them a reality. In today's picture book you will meet a little boy who wants more than anything to find a wish tree, which he is convinced is a real thing. Rather than waiting for someone to find such a tree for him, the little boy sets out to find the wish tree himself, and in the process he makes a lot of wishes come true for others.

The Wish TreeThe Wish Tree
Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Chris Turnham
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Chronicle, 2016, 978-1-4521-5065-9
One day Charles decides that he wants to find a wish tree. His older sister and brother say that “There is no such thing” as a wish tree, but Charles, and his friend Boggan, are convinced otherwise and so the next morning the boy and his toboggan set off.
   Together the friends climb a hill and sledded down to a “frost meadow” on the other side. Though they do not find a wish tree they do find a squirrel who needs help getting his haul of hazelnuts back to his home in a tree. Boggan and Charles are happy to help out.
   Later the friends help a beaver get a load of birch wood back to his lodge, and help a fox get some berries back to her burrow. Again and again Charles and Boggan assist the woodland animals who need help getting food and other materials back to their homes.
   The day begins to wind down and poor Charles and Boggan are no closer to finding a wish tree. They have seen so much during the day, except the one thing that they are looking for. Charles is so tired that he decides that he cannot search any longer. In fact he falls asleep on Boggan, which is when something magical happens.
   This wonderful wintery picture book will appeal to readers of all ages and backgrounds. Though it is certainly about a little boy’s quest, it is also about friendships that bloom during that quest. With delight we see how gifts are returned to someone who gives of himself so easily and freely. 

Add a Comment
7. Pigs, Hogs, Unwanted Tax Expertise, and Trump

screenshot-2016-12-10-13-47-51

Some readers asked if I would consider making my latest newsletter dispatch public, so they could link to it. So I posted it at Medium. It’s about, among other things, how I briefly became a tax lawyer (like and unlike my father), and how important it is for us, in politics, always to keep one eye on the money. Especially now.

It’s always fine to forward the newsletters, or to quote from them. As I’ve said, I don’t ordinarily post them online because I like the veneer of privacy. But once they’re out in the world I’m not invested in trying to control where they end up.

Add a Comment
8. Celebrating libraries and Dewey Decimal Day in December

December is full of holidays, but I'll bet you didn't know Dewey Decimal Day was one of them! Yes, December 10 is Dewey Decimal Day, the birthday of Melvil Dewey (1851-1931), the inventor of the Dewey Decimal system of library classification, the most widely used system in the world since 1876. Time to celebrate with this poem by Liz Steinglass from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations:



And you'll find these Take 5 activities for this poem in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations too:



And for more poems about libraries, books, and reading, look for my list in The Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists. Here's an excerpt:

Poems about Libraries, Books, and Reading 
  1. Alarcón, Francisco X. 1999. “Books” from Angels Ride Bikes: And Other Fall Poems/ Los Angeles Andan en Bicicleta: Y Otros Poemas de Otoño. San Francisco, CA: Children's Book Press. 
  2. Appelt, Kathi. 1997. “Javier” from Just People and Paper/Pen/Poem: A Young Writer’s Way to Begin. Spring, TX: Absey & Co.
  3. Bagert, Brod. 1999. “Library-Gold” from Rainbows, Head Lice and Pea-Green Tile; Poems in the Voice of the Classroom Teacher. Gainesville, FL: Maupin House.
  4. Dakos, Kalli. 2003. “When the Librarian Reads to Us” from Put Your Eyes Up Here: And Other School Poems. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  5. Frost, Helen. 2003. “Do Not Leave Children Unattended” from Keesha’s House. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  6. George, Kristine O’Connell. 2002. “School Librarian” from Swimming Upstream: Middle School Poems. New York: Clarion Books. 
  7. Giovanni, Nikki. 1971. “ten years old” from Spin a Soft Black Song. New York: Hill & Wang. 
  8. Glenn, Mel. 2000. “Eddie Sabinsky” from Split Image. New York: HarperCollins.
  9. Greenfield. Eloise. 2006. “At the Library” from The Friendly Four. New York: HarperCollins.
  10. Grimes, Nikki. 1997. “At the Library” from It’s Raining Laughter. New York: Dial.
  11. Grimes, Nikki. 1998. “42nd Street Library” form Jazmin’s Notebook. New York: Dial.
  12. Gunning, Monica. 2004. “The Library” from America, My New Home. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press. 
  13. Herrick, Steven. 2004. “Lord of the Lounge” from The Simple Gift. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  14. Hopkins, Ellen. 2006. “See, the Library” from burned.  New York: McElderry.
  15. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2000. “Good Books, Good Times” from Good Books, Good Times! New York: HarperTrophy.
  16. Katz, Alan. 2001. “Give Me a Break” from Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs. New York: Scholastic.
  17. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2005. “Please Bury Me in the Library” and “Necessary Gardens” from Please Bury Me in the Library. San Diego, Harcourt.
  18. Lewis, J. Patrick. 1999. “Read… Think… Dream” from: The Bookworm's Feast: A Potluck of Poems. New York: Dial.
  19. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. “#66 The Hippopotabus,” “#174 The Librarian,” “#116 Library Fine,” and “#89 New York Public Library” from Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year. New York: Little, Brown.
  20. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. “Librarian” from The Underwear Salesman: And Other Jobs for Better or Verse. New York: Simon & Schuster/Atheneum.
  21. Livingston, Myra Cohn. 1994. “Quiet” in Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. April Bubbles Chocolate; An ABC of Poetry. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  22. Lottridge, Celia Barker. 2002. “Anna Marie’s Library Book and What Happened’ in Pearson, Deborah. Ed. When I Went to the Library. Toronto: Groundwood Books. 
  23. McLoughland, Beverly. 1990. “Surprise” in Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 1990. Good Books, Good Times! New York: HarperTrophy. 
  24. Medina, Jane. 1999. “The Library Card” from My Name is Jorge on Both Sides of the River: Poems. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press.
  25. Merriam, Eve. 1998. “Reach for a Book” in Rich, Mary Perrotta, Ed. 1998. Book Poems:  Poems from National Children’s Book Week, 1959-1998. New York: Children’s Book Council.
  26. Nye, Naomi Shihab. 1998. “Because of Libraries We Can Say These Things” from Fuel. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions.
  27. Nye, Naomi Shihab. 2005. “The List” from A Maze Me; Poems for Girls. New York: Greenwillow.
  28. Prelutsky, Jack. 2006. “It’s Library Time” from What a Day It Was at School! New York: Greenwillow. 
  29. Sidman, Joyce. “This Book” from: http://www.joycesidman.com/bookmark.html
  30. Silverstein, Shel. 1981. “Overdues” from A Light in the Attic. New York: HarperCollins. 
  31. Soto, Gary. 1992. “Ode To My Library” from Neighborhood Odes. San Diego: Harcourt.
  32. Worth, Valerie. 1994. “Library” from All the Small Poems and Fourteen More. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  33. Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. 2009. “Librarian” from Steady Hands: Poems About Work. New York: Clarion.

Based on: Vardell, Sylvia M. (2006). A place for poetry: Celebrating the library in poetry. Children and Libraries. 4, (2), 35-41 and Vardell, S. M. (2007). Everyday poetry: Celebrating Children’s Book Week with book-themed poetry. Book Links. 17, (2), 14-15.

Also look for the following poetry books:
  • Rich, Mary Perrotta. Ed. 1998. Book Poems:  Poems from National Children’s Book Week, 1959-1998. New York: Children’s Book Council.
  • Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2004. Wonderful Words: Poems about Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. New York: Simon & Schuster. 
  • Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2011. I am the Book. Holiday House.
  • Salas, Laura Purdie. 2011. BookSpeak!. Ill. by Josee Bisaillon. Clarion.

Jone is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering this week, so don't forget to check out those posts over at Check it Out!

6 Comments on Celebrating libraries and Dewey Decimal Day in December, last added: 12/29/2016
Display Comments Add a Comment
9. Poetry Friday with a review of Falling Up

I usually offer up a preamble before I jump into my reviews, but today's poetry title needs no introduction because Shel Silverstein needs no introduction. What is special about this particular edition is that it contains twelve new poems!

Falling Up SpecialFalling Up
Shel Silverstein
Poetry
For ages 6 to 8
HarperCollins, 2015, 978-0-06-232133-6
Poets have been writing nonsense and funny poems for children for many years, and have given their readers amusing characters and wonderful stories in verse to read over and over. A.A. Milne, Edward Lear, and many others have delighted young readers with their comical writings, but it has to be said that one of the most famous and well-loved humorous poets is Shel Silverstein. He left behind him a wonderful collection of poems for young readers, poems that children and their grownups have been enjoying ever since they came out in print.
   On the pages of this book young readers will meet a colorful collection of characters who often have very bizarre adventures. For example, there is a little boy who, when he tripped over a shoelace, fell up instead of down. He floated up into the sky and the experience would surely have been amazing except for the fact that he got so dizzy and sick to his stomach that he “threw down.”
   Then there are poems that capture moments in a child’s life that are very familiar. In Diving Board we meet a boy who has made sure that the diving board is “nice and straight” and that is can “stand the weight.” He has verified that it “bounces right,” and that his toes “can get a grip.” The only thing left to do is to dive, but we cannot help thinking that perhaps that is the one thing he won’t do.
   Writer Waiting captures another familiar situation to perfection. A child sits in front of a computer, a wonderful device that can do so many things that a writer does not need a “writing tutor.” The computer can spell and punctuate, “edit and select,” “copy and correct.” The one thing that it cannot do is figure out what you should write about.
   The cartoon style illustrations that accompany the poems in this book often add a great deal to the writing, and in some cases they provide a visual punchline that readers will thoroughly enjoy.
   This wonderful special edition volume includes twelve poems that were not included in the original 1996 copy of this title. The author’s family very kindly agreed to share these poems and their accompanying drawings with readers, and what a gift they have given us.

Add a Comment
10. Picture Book Monday with a review of Sleep Tight Farm

This morning I woke up to find that it had snowed in the night. The trees and shrubs in our garden, and the grape vines in the vineyard looked as if they had been tucked up under a cozy, fluffy eiderdown. I was grateful that I had managed to get everything ready for the colder months in time, though the baby olive trees in their pots still need to be put under cover so that they don't freeze.

Getting a farm ready for the winter is not an easy task, and in today's picture book you will get to spend some time with a family who spend many busy days putting their farm to bed for the cold season.


Sleep Tight Farm: A Farm Prepares for WinterSleep tight farm: A farm prepares for winter
Eugenie Doyle
Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Chronicle Books, 2016, 978-1-4521-2901-3
It is December and the days are getting shorter and darker. The big hay and corn fields are empty, the trees are bare, and all is quiet, but at the farm the people are busy; it is time to put the farm “to bed” for the winter.
   Out into the cold morning they go to cover the strawberry plants with hay so that they will be protected from “winter’s frosty bite.”  Raspberry plants are also prepared for the winter, their canes cut back so they cannot be cracked by wind and snow.
   The last of the fall vegetable crops, kale, carrots, beets and potatoes, are harvested and stored in the barn. The hay was brought in weeks ago and now Dad goes out into the field to plant a cover crop so that the fields are replenished before the next season.
   Wood is chopped so that the house will be kept warm through the winter months, and the chicken coop and bee hives are winterized so that the chickens and bees will be warm and safe. This is much to do before the farm and it people can take a well-earned rest.
   In this wonderful picture book we see how the members of a family work together to get their farm ready for winter. There is a lot of work to be done, and at the same time there is a lot of gratitude to offer up for all that the farm has given the family in the spring, summer, and fall. The farm has been good to them and they have not forgotten this.
  

                                              

Add a Comment
11. NCTE 2016

I'm sure you've read posts by many others who attended the recent NCTE conference (National Council of Teachers of English) in Atlanta. It's always a great event, but this year's conference had an amazing richness of poets present! Look at all the poets who were there! And I'm probably forgetting some other names. But, WOW, right? 
I believe you can search the program for sessions by these poets here and then look for any handouts from those amazing sessions at the NCTE GoogleDoc here. On Twitter, use #NCTE16 to see what people were tweeting at the conference.

Plus, they announced the newest recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children: 
Marilyn Nelson! 

I also attended a session presented by the committee for the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children during which they present their annual list of "Notable" poetry books. That list is published annually in School Library Journal and you can find the 2016 list here. However, this year I learned that they also generate a list of "Notable Verse Novels" and somehow I had missed that previously. Apparently, they've been making that list for a few years and it is published in the New England Reading Association (NERA) Journal, but I can't find a link for that. (Please let me know if you find the link!) I was very excited to hear they were singling out verse novels for a separate "notable" list! The 2016 list of notable verse novels includes:
  • Crowder, Melanie. 2015. Audacity. New York: Philomel.
  • Engle, Margarita. 2015. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir. New York: Atheneum.
  • Hilton, Marilyn. 2015. Full Cicada Moon. New York: Dial.
  • Holt, K. A. 2015. House Arrest. San Francisco: Chronicle.
  • Jensen, Cordelia. 2015. Skyscraping. New York: Philomel.
  • Rose, Caroline Starr. 2015. Blue Birds. New York: Putnam.
  • Sonnichsen, A. L. 2015. Red Butterfly. New York: Simon & Schuster. 
Look for the article because it includes reviews, curriculum connections, and related titles.
>>> I was lucky enough to present a panel on verse novels with Jeannine Atkins, Patricia Hruby Powell, Margarita Engle, and Janet Wong. 


I spoke first about the roots of the verse novel-- some say as back as far as Homer, and certainly many credit Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology as a seminal work in this form. 
I pointed out these groundbreaking books helped shape the form and build an audience for verse novels-- and it didn't hurt to win a Newbery Medal (Karen Hesse for Out of the Dust).
And that even more recent award winners (Newbery, Newbery honor, National Book Award) were novels (or memoirs) in verse.
I reminded our audience of the many pedagogical advantages of the novel in verse form and how that serves as a motivating advantage for teen and tween readers and as a natural form for performance as readers theater. 
Then we involved volunteers from the audience in performing excerpts from each of our authors' recent works, starting with Finding Wonders by Jeannine Atkins. Jeannine spoke about her process in researching and capturing these women's voices and persona from the past.   
More volunteers helped bring to life an excerpt from Patricia Hruby Powell's Loving vs. Virginia-- complete with a gum-smacking sheriff reader! And Patricia spoke about how this book came to be and about her path from dancer to storyteller to author and poet. 
Another small troop performed several passages from Margarita Engle's book, Lion Island, reflecting multiple characters and inviting the whole audience to chime in on the repeated word, "power!" Margarita spoke about the true story behind her work and the power of language to speak for freedom. 
Finally, we performed "Dracula" by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand from You Just Wait with the whole audience joining in on "shushing" where the poem requires it while two volunteers read the dialogue for Carmen and her sister. 
Janet spoke about her work in writing response poems to the poetry of others and weaving those poems all together to create a mini novel in verse-- or verse novella-- in You Just Wait.

She shared her poem in response to the "Dracula" poem here:

Then she shared two other examples of poems + response poems. Here's "Black Ice" by Joseph Bruchac (who was also at the conference):
Here's Janet's poem in response to "Black Ice."
Here's "Future Hoopsters" by Avis Harley, an acrostic poem.
Here's Janet's poem in response to "Future Hoopsters"-- also an acrostic poem, but one in which each initial WORD in each line (rather than the initial letter) creates a new sentence.
Now she's working on new poems in response to other poems for a new book we have in the works. (More on that later.) Janet shared one example of a poem-in-progress with the audience. Here's the initial poem, "'Break-Fast' at Night" by Ibtisam Barakat (who was also at the conference):
 Here's a draft of Janet's response poem:
Finally, we ended with this beautiful quote from First Lady, Michelle Obama, one of my favorites for wrapping things up:
What a great panel and responsive audience! You can find our complete handouts, including a comprehensive bibliography of novels in verse at the NCTE link hereThey're already soliciting proposals for next year's NCTE conference in St. Louis. Here's the link for submitting proposals (by Jan. 5).

Now head on over to Wee Words for Wee Ones where Bridget is hosting Poetry Friday! Enjoy!


10 Comments on NCTE 2016, last added: 12/29/2016
Display Comments Add a Comment
12. Poetry Friday with a review of Everybody was a baby once

Anyone who has watched a young child listening to someone reading a nursery rhyme to them knows that young children have a natural appreciation for rhymes and verse. Their minds are open to the wonderful possibilities that are inherent in poetry. Today's poetry title was written especially for young children, and it offers them the gift of humor and wonderful language.

Everybody Was a Baby Once: and Other PoemsEverybody was a baby once and other poems
Allan Ahlberg
Illustrated by Bruce Ingman
Poetry Book
For ages 2 to 4
Candlewick Press, 2010, 978-0-7636-4682-0
Poetry can enrich the lives of readers of all ages, but all too often older children and adults are reluctant to explore the world of poetry because they think that poetry is not for them. Thankfully, young children are more open to receiving the gift of poetry. Indeed, they often embrace the world of poems and have a natural affinity for them.
   In this splendid book young children will encounter a collection of poems that will beautifully resonate with their interests, their sense of humor, and their love of stories. For example, in When I was a Little Childthey will ‘meet’ a child who tells them what life was like when he was young. When you are small the world you interact with is very different because of your size and because so much of what you see and experience is new and exciting. A bath is “like the sea” and a high chair is a “mighty tower.” Stairs seem to go to “mountaintops” and a father is “like a tree.”
   As they explore this book children will encounter some poems that provide them with information. They learn what to do if they meet a witch, and what monsters like to eat. For example at breakfast time monsters munch on “Tadpole toasties” and “Dreaded wheat,” and for dinner they have “moldy greens” and “Human beans.” Knowing such important facts about monsters is vital for one’s education after all.
   There are also story poems of all kinds that will surely amuse little children and their grownups. Who can resist a story about how snowmen used to be “In the good old days / When snow was snow,” and the one about a soccer match that took place between two teams of animals, with elephants on one side and insects on the other. One can only imagine how such a game would turn out.
   This is a wonderful book to share with young children. It not only introduces children to the magic of poetry, but it gives adults the opportunity to share some precious, bookish, time with the child or children in their lives. 

Add a Comment
13. Picture Book Monday with a review of Pond

Children often feel very overwhelmed when they see all the problems in their world. Stories about wars, environmental disasters, famines, political conflicts, and social upheavals fill newspapers, news broadcasts, and social media. There is so much wrong out there that they often think that there is nothing that they can do that will have an impact on so much chaos. The truth of the matter is that every little effort that makes the world safer, kinder, and cleaner is a step in the right direction.

Today's picture book shows how some children bring about change for the better in their own little world, and that change, though its impact is not global, is still vital and precious.


PondPond
Jim La Marche
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Simon and Schuster, 2016, 978-1-4814-4735-5
One cold winter day Matt is out walking when he comes to a place that he and his friends call “the Pit.” It is usually just an open space in the woods that is full of trash, but on this day he sees that a stream of water is bubbling its way out of the ground. Matt looks around and realizes that this neglected place was once a pond and he makes a decision. He is going to bring the pond back.
   Matt tells his sister Katie and his best friend Pablo about his discovery, and asks them if they are willing to help him clean the place up. Both agree and the very next weekend the three young people get to work. They pick up all the junk and trash and, with Pablo’s father’s help, take it all to the dump. Then they move rocks to create a dam.
   As the days go by and winter softens into spring, the pond starts to fill up. In the summer the children spend time by the water until they are driven off my biting insects and summer storms. Then Matt’s dad decides to help the children work on an old row boat so that it is seaworthy once again. Together they work at patching holes, sanding rough wood, and nailing down boards. The boat is named Dragonfly, and when the children take it out on the water it floats.
   As the months go by the pond offers Matt and his friends and family members all kinds of seasonal joys, and it also gives animals a place to call home.
   This wonderful book takes us through the seasons with a boy who, thanks to his imagination and hard work, is able to bring back a gift of nature that was lost. A neighborhood pond might seem like a small thing, but the special moments it gives Matt and his friends are precious. As they watch the pond grow and flourish, the children in the story grow to appreciate that sometimes the little things can become big things.
   Children who think that they are too small or too young to make a difference in the world will surely be empowered by this tale. They will see that they, like Matt, can bring about change for the better if they really want to.

Add a Comment
14. Picture Book Monday with a review of We found a hat

Learning to be unselfish is one of life's hardest lessons. For most of us remembering to think of others before ourselves is a daily battle, one that we sometimes lose. We know what we are supposed to do. We know that we are supposed to share with others and sometimes give up things we want for their sake, but doing so is just so hard.
   In this wonderful picture book we see what happens when a pair of friends find something that they both want. How will they resolve a tricky situation? Will they put friendship first?

We Found a HatWe found a hat
Jon Klassen
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 7
Candlewick Press, 2016, 978-0-7636-5600-3
One day two turtles are walking in a desert together and they find a wonderful hat, a tall, elegant Stetson. They both try the hat on and compliment each other on how “good” the hat looks. The hat “looks good on both of us,” they say but the problem is that there is only one hat and it would not be fair if one of the turtles had the hat and the other did not. There is only one thing to do. They are going to have to leave the hat where it is and “forget that we found it.”
   The two turtles walk to a nearby rock and settle down to watch the sunset. One of the turtles says that he is thinking about the sunset, the other says that he is thinking about nothing but we know that he is thinking about the hat, and looking back to where it lies on the ground. The pull of the hat is strong and the turtle is having a hard time staying true to his friend.
   Life is full of difficult choices and often the most hard-to-make ones are those that require that we make a sacrifice. In this wonderful picture book we meet a turtle who really wants something and he is forced to consider if the hat is worth more than the relationship that he shares with his best friend. Thankfully there is someone around who sets an example for him that helps him understand what true friendship is worth.

Add a Comment
15. Daily Actions

screenshot-2016-11-18-18-47-55

I can’t say the results of the election took me by surprise. Worrying that a Trump win could be coming didn’t dull the horror of the reality, though.

I’m trying not to give in to despair and not to let myself be distracted by the daily onslaught of his racist appointments, trammeling of civil rights, and blatant malfeasances.

Over at my Tumblr, I’m posting an action a day to oppose what he’s already doing. The most important one is to call the House Oversight Committee (202-225-5074) and insist on a bipartisan investigation of his financials and apparent conflicts of interest. I’ve posted many other ideas in the past couple weeks if you’re not sure where to start.

Add a Comment
16. Poetry Quotes +

I am a sucker for great quotes about the power of poetry! 

In fact, I have compiled tons of them and am always looking for more. I've made a whole slideshow of quotes that I often use before a presentation because I love combining powerful quotes with evocative images. And if I were a tattoo-ing kind of gal, I think I would put one on my body! The problem is: which one? There are so many I love! The next best thing? Put them on Pinterest! So, if you like poetry quotes like I do, you'll find all of my favorites here at Pinterest. And if you have more to share with me that you don't find there, please do! Meanwhile, I'll also post a few below to whet your appetite and push you to Pinterest! Enjoy!









Meanwhile, I am also happy to report that the amazing, incredible, and awesome Lee Bennett Hopkins has been elected to the Florida Artists' Hall of Fame! So lovely to see him recognized in this way in his own home state. Janet (Wong) and I offered a special tribute to him here at the NCTE conference in Atlanta:


Now head on over to Friendly Fairy Tales for this week's Poetry Friday celebration hosted by Brenda. See you there!


0 Comments on Poetry Quotes + as of 12/14/2016 2:53:00 AM
Add a Comment
17. 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.


Add a Comment
18. Picture Book Monday with a review of Du Iz Tak?

Many people are convinced that the best stories are ones that are packed with a huge cast of characters, a constantly changing backdrop, a busy back story, and a great deal of drama. To be sure such stories are gratifying and engaging, but smaller, quieter tales can be incredibly rich and rewarding as well. Today's picture book story is just such a tale. The characters are insects, the setting never changes, and the events that unfold are not packed with grandiose spectacles. Instead, we are given a gem of a story that takes us into a small world where powerful and meaningful things happen on a small scale.

Du Iz Tak?Du Iz Tak?
Carson Ellis
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Candlewick Press, 2016, 978-0-7636-6530-2
One day two elegant insects see that a green plant is growing out of the ground and they wonder what it is. A while later three young beetles turn up and the green thing has grown. They too would like to know what the plant is. The beetles climb to the first layer of leaves and they want to go higher to the second set but they cannot reach. They decide to go and ask Icky the caterpillar if they can borrow a ladder. The kindly fellow goes and gets his very long ladder and he props it up against the plant.
  With the ladder in place, the three beetles can now climb as high as they like, and when they get up into the higher branches of the plant– which is quite a way up now because the plant is still growing - they decide to build a tree house. Actually they build three tree houses at different levels, and life is wonderful. Then a huge spider builds a web around the houses and the plant, and the beetles can do nothing about the invader who has taken over their home.
   In this wonderful picture book, several backyard stories featuring insect characters unfold before our eyes. The insects speak their own language, which is not surprising when you think about it, but luckily we can figure out much of what they are saying and we have no trouble understanding what is going on. What is delightful about this story is that though the main characters are insects, and though the setting in the book is the same one throughout the tale, the story we witness is rich, charming, and satisfying.

Add a Comment
19. 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.
 
 


Add a Comment
20. Picture Book Monday with a review of Shy

For many of us, talking to people we do not know is a very hard thing to do. Even when we really want to make friends, taking that step to connect with someone new seems almost insurmountable, especially if it takes us out of comfort zone and forces us to go somewhere that we are not familiar with.

Today's picture book beautifully captures the journey that a character takes when he has to leave the place he knows, to seek out something that he desperately needs.

ShyShy
Deborah Freedman
Picture Book
For ages
Penguin Random House, 2016, 978-0-451-47496-4
Shy is happiest when he is “between the pages of a book,” when he can go to “a land far away” and experience “once upon a time.” Shy particularly loves books about birds, where he happily reads about their beauty and their songs. The sad thing is that Shy has never heard real bird song because the birds in books cannot sing.
   Then one day a little yellow bird flies by, a real bird that sings. Shy is delighted, and overwhelmed. He would love to talk to the bird but has no idea how to do so. What if he makes a mess of things, what if he makes a fool of himself, what if…
   And then the bird is gone.
   Shy so wants to follow the bird, but he has never left his safe little hiding place within the pages of books. He has never ventured out into the world. Though he is afraid, Shy leaves his home for the first time in his life and what he sees as he seeks out the bird amazes him. There are all kinds of animals, and there are birds, lots of birds. Shy hears the song of his bird and follows, and then comes that moment when he needs to speak, to connect with the bird, but Shy cannot get the words out and then…
   The bird is gone again and Shy is alone once more.
   Many of us find it very hard to venture away from the places that make us feel safe, the places that we are used to. If we are lucky, something comes along that pulls us out of our safe areas, and we enter a world full of marvels and possibilities, the most precious of these being friendships and connections with others. This remarkable picture book explores the journey a very shy character makes when something from the outside world touches him so such a degree that he has to follow; he has to leave the safety of his book for the sake of something wonderful.

Add a Comment
21. 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.

Add a Comment
22. Celebrating Native American Heritage Month with Poetry

November is national Native American Heritage Month and a good time to seek out, share, and celebrate poetry by and Native American writers. In fact, check out the recent Presidential Proclamation that beautifully describes why this is such an important celebration. I'm so pleased to feature a poem by Debbie Reese in honor of Native American Heritage Month. Debbie is a fellow academic who keeps the rich and informative blog, American Indians in Children's Literature. She is Pueblo Indian, tribally enrolled at Nambe Pueblo in New Mexico and her poem, "Making Bread," describes a beautiful family and Pueblo tradition complete with Tewa words (and a helpful pronunciation guide).






For more poetry by Native American writers, look for these poetry collections.

Native American Poetry For Young People

Voices from Native American or Indian tribes and traditions offer poetry in many forms. Here is a selection of these poetry books for young people.

Begay, Shonto. 1995. Navajo; Visions and Voices Across the Mesa. New York: Scholastic.
Bruchac, Joseph. 1996. Between Earth and Sky. San Diego: Harcourt Brace.
Bruchac, Joseph. 1996. The Circle of Thanks. Mahwah, NJ: Bridgewater Books.
Bruchac, Joseph. 1995. The Earth Under Sky Bear's Feet: Native American Poems of the Land. New York: Philomel.
Bruchac, Joseph. 1996. Four Ancestors: Stories, Songs, and Poems from Native North America. Mahwah, NJ: Bridgewater Books.
Bruchac, Joseph. 1992. Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back: A Native American Year of Moons. New York: Philomel.
Carvell, Marlene. 2005. Sweetgrass Basket. New York: Dutton. 
Castillo, Ana. 2000. My Daughter, My Son, the Eagle, the Dove: An Aztec Chant. New York: Dutton.
Francis, Lee. 1999. When The Rain Sings: Poems by Young Native Americans. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Geis, Jacqueline. 1992. Where the Buffalo Roam. Nashville, TN: Ideals Children's Books.
Hirschfelder, A. and Singer, B. Eds. 1992. Rising Voices: Writings of Young Native Americans. New York: Scribner’s.
Littlechild, George. 1993. This Land Is My Land. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.
McLaughlin, Timothy. Ed. 2012. Walking on Earth and Touching the Sky; Poetry and Prose by Lakota Youth at Red Cloud Indian School. New York: Abrams.
Ochoa, Annette Piña, Betsy Franco, And Traci L. Gourdine. Ed. 2003. Night Is Gone, Day Is Still Coming; Stories and Poems by American Indian Teens and Young Adults. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Slapin, Beverly, And Doris Seale. Eds. 1998. Through Indian Eyes: The Native American Experience in Books for Children. Berkeley, CA: Oyate. 
Sneve, Virginia. D. H. Ed. 1989. Dancing Teepees: Poems of American Indian Youth. New York: Holiday House.
Swamp, C. J. 1995. Giving Thanks; A Native American Good Morning Message. New York: Lee & Low.
Swann, B. 1998. Touching the Distance: Native American Riddle-Poems. San Diego, CA: Browndeer Press/Harcourt Brace.




0 Comments on Celebrating Native American Heritage Month with Poetry as of 11/5/2016 1:13:00 AM
Add a Comment
23. Picture Book Monday with a review of Penguin Problems

Like it or not, we all are, on occasion, prone to being a little self-centered. When the world does not give us what we want we whine and wail about how terrible our life is and how the system is out to get us. In today's book you will meet a penguin who is convinced that every aspect of his life is a disaster, a nightmare. And then someone comes along who helps him gain a little perspective.

This is a deliciously funny book, and it is also one that gives is a gentle, thoughtful reminder that we should take the time to look around so that we see what we are perhaps missing.

Penguin ProblemsPenguin Problems
Jory John
Illustrated by Lane Smith
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Random House, 2016, 978-0-553-51337-0
One morning Penguin wakes up “way too early” and immediately he starts to complain. His beak is cold, the other penguins are making too much noise, and it snowed again the night before and he does not really like snow. Or the sun, which is too bright.
   Feeling hungry, Penguin heads to the ocean. He finds the water too salty and he does not think he floats enough. In short he sinks “like a dumb rock.” When he dives under water to look for fish he encounters a hungry orca, and a hungry seal, and a hungry shark.
   Though he is still hungry himself, Penguin gets out of the water because his flippers are tired from all the hard swimming he has had to do to avoid being eaten. It is hard work swimming when you are a penguin. It’s also hard work walking, or rather waddling, on land. If only Penguin could fly, but he can’t. If only Penguin could figure out which of the many penguins around him is his mother or father but he can’t because all the penguins look alike. If only….
   Then a walrus comes over to a now thoroughly upset Penguin and offers him a few sage words of advice.
   It is all too easy to get disgruntled about one’s life, to spend one’s days complaining about all the things that are not perfect, and to feel much put upon by one’s circumstances. However, behaving in this manner does not really make anything better. In fact, griping and grumbling more often than not just makes us feel worse.
   In this clever picture book we meet a very disgruntled penguin who is so busy being upset with his lot in life that he forgets to notice that there are many wonderful things around him, things that should be giving him joy. If only he would bother to notice them.

Add a Comment
24. November BOOK LINKS: Jeannine Atkins and STEM

Have you seen the November issue of ALA's BOOK LINKS magazine? It's always such a helpful resource for teachers, librarians, and parents and this issue has a STEM focus. I was lucky enough to do an interview with the lovely Jeannine Atkins for this issue. Jeannine's work explores many aspects of science with a particular focus on the true stories of real women of science. Her latest book published this year, FINDING WONDERS, is about THREE women in history who followed their passion for science-- even from childhood. 

And here's a list of several of her books, including her book on writing:

Atkins, Jeannine. 1999. A Name on the Quilt: A Story of Remembrance. Atheneum.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2003. Wings and Rockets: The Story of Women in Air and Space. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2005. How High Can We Climb?: The Story of Women Explorers. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2012. Anne Hutchinson’s Way. CreateSpace.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2012. Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2013. Get Set! Swim! Lee & Low.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2013. Views from a Window Seat: Thoughts on Writing and Life. CreateSpace.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2015. Little Woman in Blue: A Novel of May Alcott. She Writes Press.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2016. Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2017. Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis. Simon & Schuster.
Atkins, Jeannine. Borrowed Names; Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters.
Atkins, Jeannine. Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneeering Naturalists.

This month's issue of BOOK LINKS is already available online, so here's the link for my article

And in case you can't access the link, here are a few excerpts.

TALKING WITH JEANNINE ATKINS

A friend told me recently that research has found that girls decide science is not for them by second grade. (See: http://policystudies.org/when-do-girls-give-up-on-math-and-science-its-all-over-sooner-than-you-think/) New England author and poet Jeannine Atkins is determined to change those perceptions and has created multiple books that put girls and women at the heart of science exploration, technological innovation, ingenious engineering, and mathematical inquiry (STEM!). Jeannine Atkins’s recent novel in verse, Finding Wonders, is one fantastic example of this with its depiction of three women in history whose passion for math, astronomy, paleontology, botany, and more is evident already in their young childhoods. In addition, Atkins’ books such as How High Can We Climb?: The Story of Women Explorers, Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists, Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon, Wings and Rockets: The Story of Women in Air and Space, Borrowed Names reveal a real passion for science, history, and biography, particularly in mining the untold stories of girls and women who ventured into these male-dominated fields long before Gloria Steinem (or even Elizabeth Cady Stanton) advocated for women’s rights and roles. Using careful research, thoughtful storytelling, lyrical language, and powerful portraits, Atkins honors real women in history whose lives and contributions deserve to be shared and celebrated with young readers of today. “What’s lost is found again.” Here she answers a handful of questions about poetry, science, feminism, biography, and the importance of fathers as models and encouragers. You may also enjoy her introspective book, Views from a Window Seat: Thoughts on Writing and Life.

SV: Can you describe the role poetry played in your childhood? When and how did you first discover a love for science, too?

JA: I grew up in a small New England town where I could wander in the woods, bicycle down back roads, and walk to the library. There wasn’t what we’d call a lot to do. In other words, it was a sort of golden age of childhood. In the attic of our old house, I found musty primers that I used to give my dolls lessons and memorized some poems. All these years later, some lines remain with me.

Poetry, science, and play blurred together. I cracked open rocks, made lists of birds and flowers, and collaborated with my brother on experiments using old glass cigar tubes as test tubes, but no one ever suggested I become a scientist. That’s okay. I lost most of my interest in science when cloud formations and maps of the earth’s core got swapped for abstractions. Who knows if anything would have been different if I was aware of women scientists, but I want to help today’s children know more possibilities. 

SV: How would you characterize the relationship between science and poetry, between being a scientist and being a poet?

JA: Poetry hints, explores, and doesn’t pounce onto certainty. Science is like that, too. For each question solved, another rises. Both poets and scientists may look closely at the world, make mistakes, try again, and wonder.

SV: You quote Maria Mitchell as saying, “Science needs women” and you clearly celebrate the achievements of girls and women in science in your writing. Where does this feminist perspective come from?

JA: Writing was a pleasure for me as a child, but in high school, my memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott faded under reading lists with just a few poems by Emily Dickinson and stories by Eudora Welty among bulky novels written by men. Curriculums have become more diverse, but women remain underrepresented in science. I like the thrill of the hunt to find what’s partly buried. And it’s another joy to introduce young readers to women who pursued their dreams. Reading can show us we’re never alone.

SV: What do you think biographical poetry might offer that a nonfiction prose biography might not?

JA: Biographies don’t always suggest the sense of a life in context, such as the sounds of waves, the slickness of rocks, or the scent of the night sky by the salt water where discoveries were made. Some fact-heavy nonfiction can give the wrong impression that everything has been discovered. Poetry’s compression, imagery, and omissions may create a sense of mystery that reflects the way nature keeps surprising us. 

SV: You’ve authored several different books about girls and women and science—some in verse, some in prose. How do you decide which you are writing and which story must be told in verse?

JA: There’s often more blundering than choosing, or I work my way through the wrong form before finding one that’s better. I first wrote Borrowed Names as prose, but it seemed to grow more alive under my hands when I took out words. Sometimes nonfiction can seem too long. And sometimes poems may seem too short. 

I loved writing small poems about how Jean-Henri Fabre got his children involved in his study of insects and the mathematical work of Florence Nightingale for The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science. A poem can be a window into a life. But for Finding Wonders I wanted to spend more time with my subjects. Verse narratives can be the perfect way to use poetry’s precision along with the wondering of “What happens next? And then?” 

Writing the linked poems let me show what led to discoveries, as well as how girls devoted to science also cared about neighbors, families, religion, a friend’s choice in shoes, whether the chowder was hot, or other everyday concerns. Sure, science needs devotion, but even Marie Curie made time to bicycle with her daughters and tend a rose garden. 

SV: Why do you think fathers are so important in the lives and stories of female scientists?

JA: It’s said that every father of a girl becomes a feminist. Maybe that’s wishful, but the fathers in the families shown in Finding Wonders wanted to share their passions, needed help with their work, and didn’t discriminate between daughters and sons. Even today, fathers are more likely than mothers to have science and engineering knowledge to pass on, and men who don’t have sons seem more likely to ask daughters to help them fix the car or plumbing, ensuring that girls feel competent with making measurements and using tools. Hurray for those dads!

TEACHING ACTIVITIES

1. Read Finding Wonders aloud as a class or group book selection. Select passages can even be read readers’ theater style with volunteers taking the parts of the main characters/subjects Maria Merian, Mary Anning, and Maria Mitchell, as well as their dads, moms, siblings, and friends. You serve as narrator reading the rest of the lines. Talk about each of these women and what she accomplished in her life. Then work together to add visuals so students can truly picture the era in which each of these women grew up and worked (Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717); Mary Anning (1799 -1847); Maria Mitchell (1818–1889). Check out the “Finding Wonders Timeline” at the author’s website. Collaborate to create a slideshow featuring these images and reading (and recording) a poem or two about each woman from Finding Wonders. Share during an Open House or Science Fair. 

2. In Finding Wonders, Atkins makes it clear that each woman’s interest in science, math, or engineering is rooted in her childhood explorations, hobbies, and interests (e.g., painting outside, hunting and collecting, numbers and puzzles, stargazing, etc.) In many cases, each girl had several interests (in drawing or painting AND in studying nature, for example) that evolved into true scientific inquiry. Talk with students about their hobbies and interests and point out how these may offer STEM connections. Research possible career paths that might emerge from these interests using websites like SmithsonianEducation.org/Scientist/ or ScienceBuddies.org/science-fair-projects/science_careers.shtml or Discovere.org/discover-engineering/engineering-careers or CareerCornerstone.org/muscenters.htm Invite guest speakers (particularly women) who work in these fields to talk with students about their own STEM work and the roots of their interests too. 

3. What other women have been unheralded in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics? Work together to research more names worthy of exploration using books like Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky or Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh or Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee and websites such as Biography.com or FamousFemaleScientists.com or AMightyGirl.com. Students can choose a women scientist subject, then take notes or jot key words describing her and her contributions and examining what is known about her childhood, in particular. They can begin with the women featured in Atkins’s works: Maria Merian, Mary Anning, Maria Mitchell, Anna Comstock, Frances Hamerstrom, Rachel Carson, Miriam Rothschild, Jane Goodall, Jeanne Baret, Florence Baker, Annie Smith Peck, Josephine Peary, Arnarulunguaq, Elizabeth Casteret, Nicole Maxwell, Sylvia Earle, Junko Tabei, Kay Cottee, Sue Hendrickson, Ann Bancroft, Katharine Wright, Blanche Stuart Scott, Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, Jackie Cochran, Jerrie Cobb, Shannon Lucid, Eileen Collins, Marguerite Perey, Florence Nightingale, and Marie Curie. Then challenge students to take those details and turn them into a free verse poem or biopoem and make a class poetry book of STEM women heroes for Women’s History Month in March, National Poetry Month in April, or for sharing any time. For more examples of poems about women in science, look for The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science


I'm also happy to say that I'll be presenting with Jeannine and several other poets including Margarita Engle, Patricia Hruby Powell, and Janet Wong at the annual conference of the National Council of Teachers of English next week in Atlanta. If you're going to the conference, I hope you'll join us and if not, I'll try to post some nuggets from the conference later. 


Meanwhile, join the Poetry Friday fun over at Jama's Alphabet Soup. She always throws the very best parties! See you there!

0 Comments on November BOOK LINKS: Jeannine Atkins and STEM as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
25. 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.
  



Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts