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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: National Poetry Month, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. NPM Celebrations - National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day

April 30th is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day. This day was created to raise awareness of the thousands of pets living in shelters that are waiting for adoption and permanent homes.

As I write this post my buddy Cooper, our latest rescue dog, is on the couch beside me snoring away. His predecessor was also rescued from a shelter. We were fortunate to call Sydney ours for nearly 16 years. When she was put to sleep, I swore it would be a long time before another one graced our doorstep. I lasted all of one month before needing to fill the space she left in our lives. All of you pet lovers out there know what I'm talking about.

Today I'm sharing poems about some pets lucky enough to find their forever homes.

Stella, Unleashed: Notes From the Doghouse (2008), written by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Paul Meisel, is a collection of poems told from the point of view of Stella, a dog rescued from the pound and brought to live with a family. The poems cover topics as varied as her rescue from the pound, selecting a name, the family members, other pets, eating, sleeping, the dog park, and more.

Lost & Found

Metal bars.
A cold, hard floor.
No window seat.
No doggy door.

Countless strangers come to call—
I listened,
and sniffed them all . . .

then turned away
and curled up tight
Nice enough but not quite right.

Then, one day, I sniffed a sniff
and got the most delightful whiff:
dirt and candy, grass and cake.
I stuck my paw out for a shake.

A boy knelt down.
I licked his face.
He rubbed my head.
I'd found my place.

That's how I chose this family.
Not perfect, no.

Except for me.


I swim in the ocean,
no matter how rough.
In rivers and lakes
I can't get enough!

When I see a pool,
I dive like a sub.
I LOVE the water
but not in the tub.

Poems ©Linda Ashman, 2008. All rights reserved.

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, written by Lee Wardlaw and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, is the story of a shelter cat and how she acclimates to her new home, told entirely in senryu. Won Ton's story is divided into sections, including The Shelter, The Choosing, The Car Ride, The Naming, The New Place, The Feeding, The Adjustment, The Yard, and Home.

No rush. I've got plans.
Gnaw this paw. Nip that flea. And
wish: Please, Boy, pick me.

Dogs have hair. Cats, fur.
Dogs whine, yip, howl, bark. Cats purr.
I say: No contest.

Scrat-ching-post? Haven't
heard of it. Besides, the couch
is so much closer.

Poems ©Lee Wardlaw, 2011. All rights reserved.

Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku (2015), written by Lee Wardlaw and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, is the sequel to Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku. In it, Won Ton again narrated and shares with readers what life is like with a new and annoying puppy in the house.

Ears perk. Fur prickles.
Belly low, I creep . . . peek . . . FREEZE!
My eyes full of Doom.

Don't bother barking
your real name. I've already
guessed. It must be . . . Pest!

Breaking news: YOU SNORE.
Twitch and whimper too. Yet you
make a soft pillow.

Poems ©Lee Wardlaw, 2015. All rights reserved.

Dogku (2007), written by Andrew Clements and illustrated by Tim Bowers, is the story of a stray dog told through a series of 17 haiku. While not about a shelter dog, it is about a pet in need of a home. The story begins with this poem.

There on the back steps,
the eyes of a hungry dog.
Will she shut the door?

The door is opened and the dog welcomed in. Eventually he earns the name Mooch and becomes a part of the family. Here are two additional poems.

Scratch, sniff, eat, yawn, nap.
Dreams of rabbits and running.
Could life be sweeter?

Family meeting.
There are words and words and words.
Did someone say "pound"?

Poems ©Andrew Clements, 2007. All rights reserved.

The PBS series Martha Speaks produced a nice list of books about dogs, including shelter dogs.
Well, that's a wrap for this year's National Poetry Month project. I hope you've enjoyed exploring celebrations with me. Check out the NPM 2016 Celebrations page for a complete listing of this month's posts. 

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2. NPM Celebrations - Arbor Day

April 29th is Arbor Day, a day dedicated annually to public tree-planting in the US, Australia, and other countries. In the United States it is celebrated on the last Friday in April. Trees are so important. They provide us with two things we cannot live without: food and oxygen. They also offer the added benefit of serving as a source for shelter, beauty, and a wealth of wood products.

Just how many trees are there in the world?
In thinking about trees today, I'm sharing snippets of poems in a form borrowed from Wallace Stevens. You'll recognize it as Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Trees

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

From Trees by Joyce Kilmer

Trees know the soft secrets of clouds
       the dark siftings of soil
The hear the high keening of squalls
           the deep rumbling of rocks
Trees whisper for the sky's damp blessings
       and the earth's misty kisses

From Go-Betweens by Marilyn Singer
in Footprints on the Roof: Poems About the Earth, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Meilo So 

Trees need not walk the earth
For beauty or for bread;
Beauty will come to them
In the rainbow—
The sunlight—
And the lilac-haunted rain;
And bread will come to them

From Trees Need Not Walk the Earth by David Rosenthal

Major tree traffic today—
commuters in both directions,

rippling up and down,
tails unfurled.

The treeway is
heavily squirreled.

Tree Traffic by Kristine O'Connell George
in Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems, written by Kristine O'Connell George and illustrated by Kate Kiesler

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
he recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

From The Trees by Philip Larkin
in The Collected Poems, written by Philip Larkin and edited by Anthony Thwaite 

The cherry trees bend over and are shedding
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed.

From The Cherry Trees by Edward Thomas

Buds, which the breath of summer days
Shall lengthen into leafy sprays;
Boughs where the thrush, with crimson breast,
Shall haunt and sing and hide her nest;

From The Planting of the Apple-Tree by William Cullen Bryant

O white pear,
your flower-tufts,
thick on the branch,
bring summer and ripe fruits
in their purple hearts.

From Pear Tree by H.D.

This is the way that autumn came to the trees:
it stripped them down to the skin,
left their ebony bodies naked.
It shook out their hearts, the yellow leaves,
scattered them over the ground.
Anyone could trample them out of shape
undisturbed by a single moan of protest.

From When Autumn Came by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
in The True Subject: Selected Poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, translated by Naomi Lazard

Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

From Winter Trees by William Carlos Williams

Years love trees in a way we can’t
imagine. They just don’t use the fruit
like us; they want instead the slant

of sun through narrow branches, the buckshot
of rain on these old cherries.

From Remaking a Neglected Orchard by Nathaniel Perry

Think finally about the secret will
Pretending obedience to Nature, but
Invidiously distinguishing everywhere,
Dividing up the world to conquer it,

From Learning the Trees by Howard Nemerov
in The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov, written by Howard Nemerov

With strong and graceful outline,
With branches green and bare,
We fill the land through all the year,
With beauty everywhere.

From The Heart of the Tree by Henry Cuyler Bunner

Here's a handout of poems about trees from the Arbor Day Foundation.
I've written about trees and poetry before. Check out my Thematic Book List on Trees. (You'll find poetry books at the very top.)

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our last celebration of the month. I can't believe it's almost done.

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3. NPM Celebrations - Richter Scale Day

April 26th is Richter Scale Day. The Richter Scale is a numerical scale developed for measuring earthquakes by Charles Richter, a geologist at the California Institute of Technology.  The Richter scale is a logarithmic scale that measures "magnitude" and reflects the amount by which the earth's crust shifts during an earthquake. Because the scale is logarithmic, each 1-point increase on the scale represents an increase of 10x in the magnitude of the earthquake. Here's a simple chart to help understand the scale.
Image from CBC NewsWorld
Here's a bit more about the scale.
You can learn more about the science earthquakes at the USGS.

Earthshake: Poems From the Ground Up (2003), written by Lisa Westberg Peters and illustrated by Cathie Felstead, is a collection of 22 poems that introduces geologic concepts through metaphor and word play in a variety of poetic forms.

River Meets Crack in the Earth

A river crosses the San Andreas fault.
It turns right, then continues on,
a little shaken up.

Instructions for the Earth's Dishwasher

Please set the
continental plates
gently on the
continental shelves.
No jostling or scraping.

Please stack the
basin right side up.
No tilting or turning

Please scrape the mud
out of the mud pots.
But watch out!
They're still hot.

As for the forks
in the river,
just let them soak.

if anything breaks,
it's your fault.

Poems © Lisa Westberg Peters, 2003. All rights reserved.

GOT Geography! (2006), selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Philip Stanton, is a collection of 16 poems about the geography of the earth, as well as ecosystems and features found on its surface. There are poems for islands, forests, mountains, the sea, and more.

Awesome Forces

The earth is
it would seem,
for here and about
it lets off
lava flows,
geysers gush,
canyons are carved
          by a river's
The earth's old crust
cracks and creaks,
shakes and
          shoves up
Ice caps recede,
glaciers advance,
ever in motion—
          a global dance.
          Will it ever
stand still?

          no chance

Poem © Joan Bransfield Graham, 2006. All rights reserved.

I'll wrap up today with this piece from PBS NewsHour. Kwame Dawes is a writer whose work include poems, plays, essays, criticism, and novels. He spent time in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake, reporting on events and writing poetry in response. (This story was produced through a partnership with USA Today, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and the NewsHour.)

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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4. NPM Celebrations - Babe Ruth Day

April 27th is Babe Ruth Day. On April 27, 1947, the Yankees hosted Babe Ruth Day at Yankee Stadium. The event was held to honor the ailing baseball star, who was in failing health due to throat cancer. You can read the New York Times article from the following day at On This Day.

George Herman Ruth, Jr. (1895-1948), best known as "Babe" Ruth, was an American baseball player who spent 22 seasons in Major League Baseball playing for three different teams, the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, and the Boston Braves.

One of my favorite baseball movies is The Sandlot (1993). Here's a favorite science side-by-side with the NY Yankees, in a commercial they did for the opening of the 2015 season. In it, the boys school their friend on just who Babe Ruth was.
You can learn more about this commercial in this Inside Edition video.

Let's start today with a poem sent to me by J. Patrick Lewis for this month's project.

The Battle Hymn of the Babe
by J. Patrick Lewis

George Herman "Babe" Ruth, Jr.
1895 – 1948

[Note:  To be sung to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”]

He’s American as Jell-o, apple pie, and ice cream cones.
He’s synonymous with magic, miracles, and milestones.
He’s the nemesis of Beantown where they hate him in their bones.
Babe Ruth is marching on.

Watch him nonchalantly waving, as he steps up to the plate,
To the spectators applauding for the Yankee head of state.
Will the Sultan swat one out today? They won’t have long to wait.
Babe Ruth is marching on.

The pitcher eyes him cruelly, the Bambino eyes him back,
Like a bike with training wheels up against a Cadillac.
When he points a warning finger at the useless warning track,
Babe Ruth is marching on.

He swings so hard you almost feel sorry for the air.
The second strike is in the dirt. The Babe? He doesn’t care.
But the umpire shrinks a little from the heat wave of his glare.
Babe Ruth is marching on.

Now here it comes, the best forkball the pitcher’s thrown all year . . .
Rainbowing to the right-field bleachers as a souvenir.
That pill could make it hail throughout the Western hemisphere.
Babe Ruth is marching on.

Poem © J. Patrick Lewis, 2016. All rights reserved.

Pat may not remember this, but he also sent me a baseball poem back in 2008. It's one of my favorite baseball poems.

A Baseball Poem
by J. Patrick Lewis

A baseball poem
should swerve
like a sidearm curve

or tease a designated reader
with sublime

A baseball poem
should be as unexpected, say,
as an undetected
squeeze play

or explode like a six-run
bonanza and a grand slam
into the leftfield stanza.

Poem © J. Patrick Lewis, 2008. All rights reserved.

When I think of baseball poems in general, three come to mind.

1. Every year when spring training begins and on opening day, I read the poem Analysis of Baseball by May Swenson. Here's how it begins.
It’s about                
the ball,                  
the bat,                                    
and the mitt.
Ball hits                    
bat, or it                  
hits mitt. 
Read the poem in its entirety
2. This poem that I memorized in middle school. It ends this way.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.
If you don't recognize it, the poem is Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer.

3. I'm also quite fond of this poem by Ogden Nash. Line-Up for Yesterday: An ABC of Baseball Immortals was written for the January 1949 issue of SPORT Magazine. The poem pays tribute to 24 of the games greatest players. Here's how it begins.
A is for Alex
The great Alexander;
More Goose eggs he pitched
Than a popular gander. 
B is for Bresnahan
Back of the plate;
The Cubs were his love,
and McGraw his hate. 
C is for Cobb,
Who grew spikes and not corn,
And made all the basemen
Wish they weren't born. 
Read the poem in its entirety.
Creative Editions published this poem, illustrated by C.F. Payne in 2001.

I'll wrap up with this poem by Franklin Pierce Adams.

A Ballad of Baseball Burdens
by Franklin Pierce Adams

The burden of hard hitting. Slug away
      Like Honus Wagner or like Tyrus Cobb.
Else fandom shouteth: “Who said you could play?
      Back to the jasper league, you minor slob!”
      Swat, hit, connect, line out, get on the job.
Else you shall feel the brunt of fandom’s ire
      Biff, bang it, clout it, hit it on the knob—
This is the end of every fan’s desire.  

Read the poem in its entirety.

I've written numerous times about my love for baseball and about baseball poetry. Check out the post Poetry in the Classroom: Take Me Out To the Ballgame from 2011 and Poetry A-Z: Day 27 ... Baseball from 2013.

You'll also find a wealth of baseball poems at the Baseball Almanac. Be sure to check out the poem Frosty and the Babe by John Robert McFarland.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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5. Poet Tree

Apparently, it's Poetry Month.

Only, I've been a little distracted.
I skipped off to the city
for my local SCBWI meeting -
an art show,
a lecture from book-wise and witty
editors Mary Kate Castellani and Caroline Abbey,
and then a consultation and workshop with
art director, professor, and story genius Joy Chu.

This is the same Joy who guided me over the last two winters
in visual storytelling classes through the UCSD online extension program.

I'm still reeling with inspiration.
I could have listened for days. Months. Years.

Now I'm home, all bright and hopeful,
waiting for my brain to shape so many beautiful tips
and ideas into working order.
Time to let the front thoughts simmer.  
Time to play with poetry.

We started with a poet-tree.

The wildebeests and I cut out branchy trees and labeled each branch with simple word:
sky, go, sea, etc.
Next, we cut out dozens of leaves - in all flutters of color,
because it just looks more exciting that way.

Each branch grew rhyming leaf words:
sky = cry, my, pie, etc.

Because we like to make life even more thrilling, and sometimes complicated,
I thought it might be fun for the older wildebeests to thread their leaves on yarn.

Winnie added a button.

Pip used gold pen. She's really into gel pens lately.

And their finished masterpieces.

I'd love to meet a tree like this someday, shimmering with colors, yarns, and words!
I think I'd move in.

I'll share more poetry play next time.

Until then, here are a few favorites:

A Kick in the Head, An Every Day Guide to Poetic Forms - compiled by Paul Janeczko, ill. by Chris Raschka
The Random House Book of Poetry - edited by Jack Prelutsky, ill. by Arnold Lobel
Switching on the Moon - collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Peters, ill. by G. Brian Karas
Chicken Soup With Rice - by Maurice Sendak
When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne, ill. by Ernest Shepard
Now We Are Six By A.A. Milne, ill. by Ernest Shepard

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6. NPM Celebrations - National Blueberry Pie Day

April 28th is National Blueberry Pie Day. I am not a fruit pie lover (sorry!), but I do adore the blueberry. Last summer I heard a terrific story on NPR about blueberry history in New Jersey and how the blueberry was bred and "tamed" into the version we all know so well today. You can hear that story at How New Jersey Tamed The Wild Blueberry For Global Production.

I buy my blueberries when they are available at my local farmer's market. I'm lucky if I can get them home before popping one after another into my mouth. And really, isn't that what you want to do with sweet, fresh, juicy fruit?

Fresh Delicious (2016), written by Irene Latham and illustrated by Mique Moriuchi, is a collection of 20 poems (21 if you count the back cover) about the farmer's market and the amazing array of produce you can find there.


are sweet
but not

One fits
and thumb.

They burst
like flavor-filled
in waffles
and muffins.

Poem © Irene Latham, 2016. All rights reserved.

Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico!: America's Sproutings (2009), written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael López, is a book that combines factual information about edible plants native to the Americas with crisp, sense-filled poems, all in the form of haiku. The foods are listed alphabetically, beginning with blueberry and ending with vanilla.


Fill your mouth with blue.
Share a bowl heaped with summer.
Chew indigo O.

Blueberries are delicious, healthy treats. Originating in North America, they were eaten fresh and dried by Native Americans. They also ground blueberries into spice rubs and used the berries in medicines. European settlers in North America made gray paint by boiling blueberries in milk, and today the United States is the largest producer of blueberries in the world. Wild blueberries, the official state berry of Maine, are sometimes harvested using traditional handheld rakes. Plan a blueberry party in July, National Blueberry Month.

Poem and Text © Pat Mora, 2009. All rights reserved.

Here's a long and lovely poem by Robert Frost.

by Robert Frost

 “You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture to-day:
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!        
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!”

Read the poem in its entirety.

Lettuce Introduce You: Poems about Food (2008), written by Laura Purdie Salas, is a collection of  food-themed poems that are written in a variety of poetic forms. Each poem is accompanied by a vibrant photograph. Next to blueberries in my hand, this poem describes my favorite way to eat them.

Too Early!

Mom says to wake up
     I don't want to
It's the middle of the night


Dad makes me a
"Cheer up!" waffle-boy
with blueberry eyes and
a fresh citrus smile

     What's he so happy about?

Poem © Laura Purdie Salas, 2008. All rights reserved.

In addition to blueberries on and in my pancakes, I do love a good blueberry muffin. My favorite recipe is this one for Jordan Marsh's Blueberry Muffins.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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7. NPM Celebrations - National Coin Week

April 17-23 is National Coin Week. The theme this year is Portraits of Liberty: Icon of Freedom. This was selected because 2016 marks the centennial anniversary of three popular U.S. coin designs featuring Liberty -- the Mercury (or Winged Liberty) dime, the Standing Liberty quarter and the Walking Liberty half dollar.

Let's ring in this week's celebration with some poems about coins and money. The first poem that came to mind for me was this poem by Shel Silverstein.

Kenn Nesbitt shares all kinds of poetry on his web site, Poetry4kids.com. (You'll find them in his books too!) Here are two funny poems about money from The Biggest Burp Every: Funny Poems for Kids, written by Kenn Nesbitt and illustrated by Raphael Domingos.

I Love to Do the Laundry

I love to do the laundry.
I mean it. I don't mind
because I get to keep
whatever money I might find.

I know it sounds ridiculous.
I'm sure it must seem strange.
But every time I wash the clothes
I find some pocket change.

I found a dollar yesterday.
Today I found a ten.
I'm certain that tomorrow
I'll find money once again.

You see, I have a strategy.
(I guess that's what you call it.)
And sometimes I just accidentally
wash my father's wallet.

Copyright © 2014 Kenn Nesbitt. All Rights Reserved.

Floyd the Coin Collector

I'm Floyd, the coin collector.
It's coins that I collect.
I'm really not too finicky
with which ones I select.

I like collecting pennies;
they're all I get sometimes.
But often I get nickels, too,
and frequently it's dimes.

I'll gladly keep a dollar coin,
a quarter, or a pound.
I'd even save a rupee
or a ruble that I found.

A euro here, a guilder there,
a peso or a franc;
I'll happily collect them all
and put them in the bank.

My hobby is a simple one;
it's not the least bit strange.
And all you have to do to help
is give me all your change.

Copyright © 2012 Kenn Nesbitt. All Rights Reserved.

I'm particularly fond of this poem by Sara Teasdale.

The Coin
by Sara Teasdale

Into my heart’s treasury
I slipped a coin
That time cannot take
Nor a thief purloin,
Oh better than the minting
Of a gold-crowned king
Is the safe-kept memory
Of a lovely thing.
That's it for today.

Edgar Allan Poe's Pie: Math Puzzlers In Classic Poems (2012), written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Michael Slack is a collection of cleverly disguised math problems in the form of parodies of classic poems. Here's a poem that asks readers to solve a money problem.

Robert Frost's Boxer Shorts
Inspired by "Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost

Whose underwear?! I wish I knew
Who left these for me, all brand-new—
Five dollars, ninety cents a pair.
They're not my size. I'm forty-two.

And fourteen pairs? Why, I could share
A few with you with some to spare.
If nine are cotton (cotton blend)
And five are silk, then let's compare:

On each set, how much did he spend?
Arithmetic is just the friend
To multiply, divide, or add.
And what's the total in the end?

These boxer shorts are not half bad
With lions, tigers, stripes, and plaid.
My tightie whities look so sad.
My tightie whities look so sad.

Poems © J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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8. NPM Celebrations - Chinese Language Day

April 20th is Chinese Language Day. The United Nations (UN) has 6 official languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Each of them have their own days to "promote multiculturalism and cross cultural understanding by showcasing the rich history and literary culture of each language." The dates for the Language Days were selected by the Department of Public Information for their symbolic or historic significance in connection with each language. The date for the Chinese day was selected to pay tribute to Cangjie, the figure attributed with the invention of Chinese characters.

Today's books and poems highlight Chinese culture.

A Suitcase of Seaweed and Other Poems (1996), written and "decorated" by Janet Wong, is a collection of 36 poems that celebrates all aspects of her heritage. Divided into three sections, Korean poems, Chinese poems and American poems, the poems are preceded by an introduction that describes the author's experiences with this part of her culture. Many of the poems revolve around family and food. Here are two poems from the Chinese poems section.

Albert J. Bell

Forty years of friendship
with my grandfather,
and still Uncle Al cannot eat
with chopsticks.

Forty years of friendship
with Uncle Al,
and still my grandfather forgets
to offer him a fork.

Grandmother's Almond Cookies

No need cookbook, measuring cup.
Stand close. Watch me. No mess up.

One hand sugar, one hand lard
(cut in pieces when still hard),

two hands flour, more or less,
one pinch baking powder. Guess.

On hand almond, finely crushed.
Mix it with both hands. No rush.

Put two eggs. Brown is better.
Keep on mixing. Should be wetter.

Sprinkle water in it. Mke
cookies round and flat. Now bake

one big sheet at three-seven-five.
When they done, they come alive.

Poems © Janet Wong, 1996. All rights reserved.

**When I first got this book, I actually tried this recipe/poem. Let's just say I failed miserably! Here's the recipe I use to make Chinese almond cookies.

My Chinatown: One Year of Poems (2002), by Kam Mak, is a lushly illustrated book that follows a young boy as he adjusts to his new life in the Chinatown of his new American city. The pictures are so beautiful and finely detailed that in some instances readers may be fooled into thinking they are looking at a photograph. The heart ache and longing for home the boy endures can be felt in every poem. These poems are also filled with stories of family and food. Here is the poem that begins the winter section of the book.

Back home in Hong Kong,
it's New Year.
Papa says we'll have New Year here,
in America, in Chinatown.
Mama says it will be just like home.

But it isn't home,
even when the firecrackers
hiss and crackle all night long
to scare off every evil spirit in the world.
In the morning, I go out along
to kick through drifts of red paper.
Somewhere there will be one whole firecracker
hidden, waiting for me.

But I can't find one,
even though the air dances
with scraps of red,
a snowfall the color of luck.
It must be someone else's luck this year.
Not mine.

Poem © Kam Mak, 2002. All rights reserved.

Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments (2014), written by Emily Jiang and illustrated by April Chu, is a collection of free verse poems told from the perspective of children preparing for a concert in which they will play their instruments. In addition to the poems are informational sidebars that describe the history of the instruments, how they are played, and their sounds.

Painting with Sound

Picking at my guzheng
I can feel

the crisp, clean
mountain air

breezing over
my unbound hair.

Strumming my guzheng
I can feel

the cold rush
of waterfall

filling my ears
with thunderous call.

Poem © Emily Jiang, 2014. All rights reserved.

Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems (1997), selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Karen Barbour, is a collection of 16 poems on calculators, division, multiplication, fractions, time, and other mathematical topics. Here's one that uses Cantonese.

One to Ten

Yut yee sam see
Count in Cantonese with me!

Eun look chut bot
Can you tell me what we've got?

Gow sup. One to ten!
(Could you say that once again?)

Poem © Janet Wong, 1997. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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9. NPM Celebrations - Kindergarten Day

April 21st is Kindergarten Day. This day celebrates the birthday of Friedrich Frobel (born in 1782), who is credited with starting the first Kindergarten in Germany in 1837.

This seems like a good time to celebrate the joys of play at school with a selection of poems about recess.

Stampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School (2009), written by Laura Purdie  Salas and illustrated by Steven Salerno, is a collection of poems that recognizes and celebrates the ways kids mimic the behaviors of animals. The poems are funny, clever, and clearly recognize the ups and downs of being a kid.

King of the Jungle (Gym)

From metal branch
to metal vine,
I dip and dive—
this jungle's mine.

Back and forth
I soar and swing.
On monkey bars
I'm Monkey King!

Playground Sparrows

In one wave, we fly the coop.
We flood the field, we slide and loop.
We flock together, shout and whoop.
Then school bell rings, and—

Poems ©Laura Purdie Salas, 2009. All rights reserved.

Messing Around on the Monkey Bars: And Other School Poems for Two Voices (2009), written by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Jessie Hartland, is a collection of school poems that takes readers on a ride around the school and schoolyard, beginning with the school bus and ending with the final school bell. In the author's note Franco says "Though these poems can be read silently and enjoyed by a single person, they are the most fun when read aloud by two people." This is followed by a graphic that shows what the voices look like. In the poem below, the plain font is Voice 1, the bold font is Voice 2, and the larger bold font is for both voices to speak at the same time.

Messing Around on the Monkey Bars

Time for recess!
Here we are,

messing around
on the monkey bars!

Hand over hand,
fast or slow,

calling to
our friends below.

Skipping two bars,
skipping three,

dangling down
by just our knees.

Swinging up
above the ground,

missing bars
and tumbling down.

Hooting, howling,
here we are,

messing around
on the monkey bars!

Poem  ©Betsy Franco, 2009. All rights reserved.

For information on how to use this book in the classroom you can download a teacher's guide for Franco's book.
I Thought I'd Take My Rat to School: Poems for September to June, selected by Dorothy Kennedy and Illustrated by Abby Carter, contains 57 poems that describe the range of experiences children have in school, from classroom pets, to school supplies, recess, mean kids, and more.

by Lilian Moore

The children
scribble their shadows
on the school yard,

on a great blackboard—

lanky leg
running into
lifted arm shadows
bouncing ball shapes
into skinny upside down shadows
long monkey bars

a cloud
across the morning sun
wipes out all
like a giant

Poem  ©Lilian Moore. All rights reserved.

The Bug in the Teacher's Coffee: And Other School Poems (2002), written by Kalli Dakos and illustrated by Mike Reed, is an I Can Read Book designed to introduce poetry to children learning to read independently. The mask poems in this book are short, rhymed, and full of bouncy fun.

Monkey Bars

Rightside up,
and upside down,
Back and forth,
And all around,
The kids
are making monkey sounds!

Poem  © Kalli Dakos, 2002. All rights reserved.

First Food Fight This Fall: And Other School Poems, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa, follows a group of children as they learn and grow over the course of a school year. These poems are written in the children's voices and fairly sing about the highs and lows of school. What's most interesting is that readers will see how the kids grow and change over the course of the year.

by Jenna & Abigail

I'm the very bet at tag.
It's my great claim to fame.
I can zig and I can zag.
I'm the very best at tag.
I'll let the cat out of the bag—
my dog taught me the game.
I'm the very best at tag.
It's my great claim to fame.

My classmates call me Snail.
At tag, I'm always It.
My real name's Abigail.
My classmates call me Snail.
I wish they'd let me bail.
I'd much prefer to sit.
My classmates call me Snail.
At tag, I'm always It.

Poem ©Marilyn Singer. All rights reserved.

Hello School!: A Classroom Full of Poems (2001), written by Dee Lillegard and illustrated by Don Carter, is a collection of 38 very brief poems for young children. These short poems describe furniture, school supplies, and daily events in an early childhood classroom.

They hang around
stare at the sky . . .
wait to be sat on
so they can fly!

Slippery slithery
Slide says, Go!
This is not time to be shy
or slow.

Poems ©Dee Lillegard, 2001. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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10. NPM Celebrations - Earth Day

April 22nd is Earth Day. Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. It was organized to "raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment, and links between pollution and public health." As a result of Earth Day, many environmental laws were passed and the Environmental Protection Agency was created. Today, Earth Day is celebrated all over the world.

Let's start with looking at NASA's campaign from last year.

The Three Bears Holiday Rhyme Book (1995), written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jane Dyer, is a collection of 15 poems celebrating 16 different holidays including New Year’s, Groundhog Day, Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s, Earth Day, Arbor Day, May Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas & Chanukah, and Happy Birthday.

Earth Day
by Jane Yolen

I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Each blade of grass,
Each honey tree,
Each bit of mud,
And stick and stone
Is blood and muscle,
Skin and bone.

And just as I
Need every bit
Of me to make
My body fit,
So Earth needs
Grass and stone and tree
And things that grow here

That’s why we
Celebrate this day.
That’s why across
The world we say:
As long as life,
As dear, as free,
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me. 

Poem © Jane Yolen, 1995. All rights reserved.

Days to Celebrate: A Full Year of Poetry, People, Holidays, History, Fascinating Facts, and More, (2005) written and edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn, is an enormous collection of filled-to-the-brim facts by month accompanied by carefully selected poems. Each month of the year is highlighted with a double-page calendar spread in which each  box on the calendar includes one or more noteworthy events (birthdays, historical happenings, holidays, etc.) for that date. At the top of each double-page spread is a fact box listing the origin of the month's name and information on the flower, birthstone and zodiac sign for the month. Along the bottom readers will find a quote by an individual with a highlighted birthday and a report of some weather extreme that occurred during the month. For each of the poems in the monthly sections you'll find a bit of informational text about the person, holiday, or event. Here's the poems for Earth Day

Earth, What Will You Give Me?
by Beverly McLoughland

Earth, what will you give me
In summer,
In summer,
Earth, what will you give me
In summer

I'll give you my fields
Made of lilies,
Of lilies,
I'll give you my fields
Made of lilies
And green.

And what will you give me
In autumn,
In autumn,
And what will you give me
In autumn
So bold?

I'll give you my leaves
Made of maple,
Of maple,
I'll give you my leaves
Made of maples
And gold.

And what will you give me
In winter,
In winter,
And what will you give me
In winter
So light?

I'll give you my stars
Made of crystal,
Of crystal,
I'll give you my stars
Made of crystal
And white.

And what will you give me
In springtime,
In springtime,
And what will you give me
In springtime
So new?

I'll give you my nests
Made of grasses,
Of grasses,
I'll give you my nests
Made of grasses
And blue.

Poem © Beverly McLoughland. All rights reserved.

I'll wrap up today's celebration with a poem J. Patrick Lewis sent me for Earth Day.

Earth Day (April 22)

The Globe

Ever since her birth
Ancient Mother Earth
Demonstrates her power
Spinning hour by hour.

Doesn’t it seem strange?
Land and Sea arrange
Nature with the Sky.
We’re just passers-by.

Poem © J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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11. Poetry Friday: Animal Poems of the Iguazú/Animalario del Iguazú

 is National Poetry Month! All month long we’ll be celebrating by posting some of our favorite poems for Poetry Friday. To celebrate Earth Day, for today’s Poetry Friday, we chose a poem from Animal Poems of the Iguazú/Animalario del Iguazú, written by Francisco X. Alarcón and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez.

Same Green Fate

let’s listen to

the green voice

of the rainforest

the colorful chorus

of so many flowers

trees and birds

let’s learn

the distinct

living alphabets

of so many species

so many insects

and butterflies

let’s be part

of the clamor and

song of this land:

you all belong

to us and we all

belong to you

protect all of us

for the Earth’s fate

for your own sake

let’s make the world

a true Ybirá Retá—

a Land of the TreesAnimal Poems of the Iguazu

Purchase Animal Poems of the Iguazú/Animalario del Iguazú here.

Our Earth Day Poetry Collection is now 25% off! Purchase it here.

Further Resources

Reading for the Earth: Ultimate Earth Day Resource Roundup

Happy Earth Day from LEE & LOW BOOKS

Earth Day: Saving the Pufflings

What We’re Doing to Celebrate Earth Day

Seven Children’s Books to Celebrate World Water Day

Resources for Teaching about Wangari Maathai and Seeds of Change

Turn a Blanket into a Scarf! Book-Inspired DIY Projects

Where in the World: How One Class Used Google Maps to Explore the Vanishing Culture Series

Beyond “Did You Know…”: Teaching Geo-Literacy Using the VANISHING CULTURE Book Series

How to Be an Explorer in Your Own Backyard: The Olinguito Activity Kit and Teacher’s Guide

Twelve Months of Books: April

Poetry Ideas and Resources

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12. NPM Celebrations - Talk Like Shakespeare Day

April 23rd is Talk Like Shakespeare Day. On this day we celebrate the bard’s birthday (we think) and his works. Though there are no records of his birth, he was baptized on April 26. He also dies on April 23, so this day was chosen to honor him.

Before I begin, I want to highlight a brand new book that everyone interested in language, words, idioms, history, and Shakespeare must read.

Will's Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk (2016), written by Jane Sutcliffe and illustrated by John Shelley, is a book about Shakespeare, his plays, and the words he gave us that have found their way into our everyday language. Each double-page spread includes information about the theater and the bard's world on the left side, with information on "Will''s words," what they mean, and where they come from. Backmatter includes an author’s note, a bibliography, and a timeline. This is a fabulous introduction to the time period, theater, Shakespeare, the evolution of the English language, and much more.

What did spoken Shakespeare really sound like? Check out this piece at The Telegraph to learn more.

This is for those of you who think Shakespeare isn't meant for kids.
Speaking like Shakespeare can be as easy as slipping some of his phrases into your conversation. Here are few for which the credit goes to the bard. Kudos to you if you know the plays these come from!
  • As good luck would have it
  • Be-all and the end-all
  • Break the ice
  • Dead as a doornail 
  • Eaten me out of house and home
  • Forever and a day
  • For goodness’ sake
  • Give the devil his due 
  • Heart of gold 
  • Love is blind
  • One fell swoop 
  • What the dickens
  • Wild-goose chase
You can read more phrases attributed to Shakespeare at 45 Everyday Phrases Coined by Shakespeare.

Can we attribute Knock-Knock jokes to Shakespeare? I think so!
“Knock knock! Who’s there?” — Macbeth
Here are a few Shakespearean knock-knock jokes for you.

Knock, Knock.
Who’s there?
Noah who?
Noah’s the winter of our discontent.

Knock, Knock.
Who’s there?
Oberon who?
Oberon the other bank you might try to catch some fish.

Knock, Knock.
Who’s there?
Orlando who?
Or Lando or Leia or Luke or Chewbacca will pilot the Millennium Falcon.

Knock, Knock.
Who’s there?
Shelly who?
Shelly compare thee to a summer’s day?

You can find more knock-knock jokes at Shakespeare Geek.

Here are a few poems and excerpts from plays that are particularly kid-friendly.

If you see a fairy ring
Near a field of grass,
Very lightly step around,
Tiptoe as you pass;
Last night fairies frolicked there,
And they're sleeping somewhere near.
If you see a tiny fae
Lying fast asleep,
Shut your eyes and run away,
Do not stay or peep;
And be sure you never tell,
Or you'll break a fairy spell.

At Christmas I no more desire a rose,
Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth;
But like of each thing that in season grows.
 - Love's Labour's Lost 

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
 - Macbeth

O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away!
 - Two Gentlemen of Verona

I'll close with this hilarious version of Clarence's speech from Richard III.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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13. NPM Celebrations - Sky Awareness Week

The last full week in April (24-30) is Sky Awareness Week. This week provides us all with an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the sky and to better understand the weather processes.

When I look at the sky during daylight hours, I think of clouds. That's exactly where I want to focus for this week's celebration.

Let's start with cloud formation. This is what happens when warm air rising up from inside the canyon meets cooler, moister air.
When I first began to plan for this post, three things came to mind.

1. "I wandered lonely as a cloud/ That floats on high o'er vales and hills," the opening of the Wordsworth poem that has absolutely nothing to do with clouds.

2. Joni Mitchell and these lyrics.
Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
and feather canyons everywhere, I've looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way. 
I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
from up and down, and still somehow
it's cloud illusions I recall.
I really don't know clouds at all.
3. Shakespeare!
from Antony and Cleopatra
Act 4, Scene 14    
Sometimes we see a cloud that's dragonish;
A vapour sometime like a bear or lion,
A tower'd citadel, a pendent rock,
A forked mountain, or blue promontory
With trees upon't, that nod unto the world,
And mock our eyes with air: thou hast seen
these signs;
They are black vesper's pageants.
I found additional ideas when I turned to my poetry bookshelf. Here are some favorite poems about clouds.

Seed Sower, Hat Thrower: Poems About Weather (2008), written by Laura Purdie Salas, is a collection of weather-themed poems that are written in a variety of poetic forms. Each poem is accompanied by a splendid photograph.


Vanilla cotton candy
Pillows meant for kings
Fluffy bunny rabbits
Enormous seagull wings

I check the sky at recess
To see what each day brings
I never dreamed that clouds could make
So many different things!

Poem © Laura Purdie Salas, 2008. All rights reserved.

Here's an older poem (maybe 200 years?) by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

The Cloud
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
    From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
    In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken      
    The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
    As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
    And whiten the green plains under,      
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
    And laugh as I pass in thunder.

Silver Seeds (2001), written by Paul Paolilli and Dan Brewer with paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, is a collection of 15 nature poems using the acrostic form. The verses are ordered to follow a young boy and girl through the day, beginning with dawn and ending with night. In between they encounter sun, shadow, hills, trees, leaves (though the word is leaf), a bee, butterfly, hummingbird, clouds, fog, rain, the moon, and stars.

Creamy scoops of ice cream
Under a
Dreamy blue

Poem ©Paul Paolilli and Dan Brewer, 2001. All rights reserved.

Here's a lovely little poem by Christina Rosetti.

by Christina Rosetti

White sheep, white sheep,
On a blue hill,
When the wind stops,
You all stand still.
When the wind blows,
You walk away slow.
White sheep, white sheep,
Where do you go?

Sky Songs (1984), written by Myra Cohn Livingston and illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher, is a collection of 14 poems about different aspects of the sky. Poem topics include the moon, stars, planets, storms, smog, rain, and more.


strange animals
creep out of white mountains,
stalk each other around in a

of head and legs,
chase through the silent air,
tumble over themselves as the paling

sun burns
through their bodies,
and their bleached skeletons,
blown by a rising wind, thin out and

Poem ©Myra Cohn Livingston, 1984. All rights reserved.

Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for New Poets (2002), compiled by Paul Janeczko, is a  The title of the book comes from this poem which is about seeing the sky differently.

The Blue Between
by Kristine O’Connell George

Everyone watches clouds,
naming creatures they've seen.
I see the sky differently,
I see the blue between—

     The blue woman tugging
     her stubborn cloud across the sky.
     The blue giraffe stretching
     to nibble a cloud floating by.
     A pod of dancing dolphins,
     cloud oceans, cargo ships,
     a boy twirling his cloud
     around a thin blue fingertip.

In those smooth wide places,
I see a different scene.
In those cloudless spaces,
I see the blue between.

Poem ©Kristine O'Connell George All rights reserved.

Since reading this poem, I've never looked at the sky the same way again. Now I look at the spaces of blue and gray before I study the clouds.

Let's wrap this up with an excerpt from a poem by Goethe. You maynot know this, but the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe studied a number of scientific fields, including geology, mineralogy, botany, comparative anatomy, and theory of light and colors. His developed an in terest in meteorology after reading a paper by Luke Howard on the modifications of clouds (1803). Goethe embraced Howard's cloud classification scheme and eventually struck up a correspondence with him. Enamored of his work, Goethe wrote the poem "Howards Ehrengedächtnis" or "In Honor of Howard," in which he described different types of clouds using Howard's nomenclature and descriptions. The poem was published in German as well as in English in Goethe's journal on natural sciences.
-Information found in the Proceedings of the International Commission on History of Meteorology 1.1 (2004).

You can read the entire poem in the article Johann Wolfgang von Goethes Beziehungen zu Luke Howard und sein Wirken auf dem Gebiet der Meteorologie, written by Karl-Heinz Bernhardt. Don't worry, there is an English translation of the poem!

When o’er the silent bosom of the sea
The cold mist hangs like a stretch’d canopy;
And the moon, mingling there her shadowy beams,
A spirit, fashioning other spirits seems;
We feel, in moments pure and bright as this,
The joy of innocence, the thrill of bliss.

Then towering up in the darkening mountain’s side,
And spreading as it rolls its curtains wide,
It mantles round the mid-way height, and there
It sinks in water-drops, or soars in air.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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14. NPM Celebrations - World Penguin Day

April 25th is World Penguin Day, a day in which we celebrate the 18 known species of penguin and focus on their conservation. It is celebrated on this day because the annual northward migration of penguins is usually on or around April 25th. Penguins only live in regions south of the Equator, in areas ranging from the cold continent of Antarctica to the warm lands of the Galápagos Islands. Today's selections celebrate this popular flightless bird.

An Old Shell: Poems of the Galapagos (1999), written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Tom Pohrt, is a collection of 34 poems (most written in free verse, though a few are written in haiku) in which Johnston pays tribute to the wonder that is the Galapagos. The book opens with a two-page map of the islands. The poem topics include the sea, the islands, animals, plants, and more. 

Galápagos Penguins

The penguins are swimming
See how the water
     holds them
in its cool green
how it lifts them
light as kelp
lets them splash
     and reel
          and roll
over its bright
Oh, see how the water
     loves them!

Poem ©Tony Johnston, 1999. All rights reserved.

Eric Carle's Animals, Animal (1989), compiled by Laura Whipple and illustrated by Eric Carle, is a collection of 62 poems about more than 70 different kinds of animals, from ant to yak. These poems come from authors and poets as varied as Emily Dickinson, Edward Lear, Eve Merriam, Rudyard Kipling, Benjamin Franklin, Lewis Carroll, Karla Kuskin, Judith Viorst, and many, many others. The poems are accompanied by brightly colored, exuberant illustrations by Eric Carle. It concludes with an index of animals arranged alphabetically, as well as an index of first lines.

Enigma Sartorial
by Lucy W. Rhu

Consider the penguin
He's smart as can be—
Dressed in his dinner clothes
You can never tell
When you see him about,
If he's just coming in
Or just going out!

Poem ©Lucy W. Rhu. All rights reserved.

Animal Poems (2007), written by Valerie Worth and illustrated by Steve Jenkins, is a posthumously published collection of 23 poems that highlight Worth's keen sense of observation. Animals range from small to large and simple to complex. You will find poems about jellyfish, cockroaches, kangaroos, elephants, minnows, and more. They are all accompanied by Jenkins' amazingly beautiful cut- and torn-paper collages.

by Valerie Worth

Where the only
Land is ice, loose
Crystals worked
To white diamond
By ridge heaped
Upon crevasse, or
Carved into looming
Emerald veins, or
Pressed past sapphire
To the shuddering cobalt
Gloom of the berg's
Abysmal bone,

The penguin swims
At home, or frolics
Over the treacherous
Floe: or amidst
Those fearful frozen
Smolderings, settles
To its nest of
Snow: cheerful
As a house cat
Toasting its haunches
On the hearth's
Warm stones.

Poem ©Valerie Worth. All rights reserved.

Animal Sense (2003), written by Diane Ackerman and illustrated by Peter Sís, explores the ways that animals navigate the world using their senses. The poems are funny and clever and occasionally include made-up words. Organized into sections for touch, hearing, vision, smell, and taste, three different animals are highlighted in each. Here's the first poem from the section on touch.

Penguin babies,
on the other hand (or wing),
will cozy up to almost anything
summery and snug—
preferring Mom's tummy,
but a human hand or rug
also feels yummy.

Frantic for a big, smothery
featherbed cuddle,
they sometimes wobble around
in a chilly muddle,
gawking everywhere
for their next of kin.
"Hug me!" they squawk.
"I need wings to snooze in."

Then while the antarctic night
blusters and blows
and rainbow-bright auroras glow,
the air plunges to 40 below.
But penguin babies keep warm—
they peep songs of summer
and nuzzle in deep,
waltzing through their ice palace
on Mama's feet.

Poem © Diane Ackerman, 2003. All rights reserved.

On the Wing: Bird Poems and Paintings (1996), written and illustrated by Douglas Florian, is a collection of art and poetry that examines 21 birds with witty word play and a keen sense of observation.

The Emperor Penguins

The life of these penguins
Is harsh as can be:
They gather on ice packs
Of antarctic sea,
All huddled together
For warmth and protection,
And choose a new emperor
Without an election.

Poem ©Douglas Florian, 1996. All rights reserved.

zoo's who (2005), written and illustrated by Douglas Florian, is a collection of 21 poems and paintings on a variety of animals, including the bush baby, tortoise, ladybugs, slugs and more.

The Penguin

A penguin isn't thin—it's fat.
It has penguinsulation.
And it toboggans through the snow
On penguinter vacation.
The penguin's a penguinsome bird
Of black-and-white fine feather.
And it will huddle with its friends
In cold penguindy weather.

Poem ©Douglas Florian, 2005. All rights reserved.

The National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems With Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar! (2012), compiled by J. Patrick Lewis, contains the photos we've come to love from National Geographic, accompanied by one and sometimes two poems from classic to contemporary poets. The book categorizes the poems under the headings “the big ones,” “the little ones,” “the winged ones,” “the water ones,” “the strange ones,” “the noisy ones,” and “the quiet ones.” 

by Charles Ghigna

Penguins waddle.
Penguins stroll
All around
The cold South Pole.

Penguins slide.
Penguins swim.
Penguins never
Look too slim.

Penguins play.
Penguins dress
Always in
Their Sunday best.

Poem ©Charles Ghigna. All rights reserved.

Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems (1998), written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey, is a collection devoted entirely to the lives and habitats of emperor penguins. It begins with the hatching of a new penguin and comes full circle with the grown penguin finding a mate and new chicks being hatched.

Diary of a Very Short Winter Day

At the first hint of dawn
I awake with a yawn
And follow my cousins
(All thirty-three dozen)
To the end of the land,
Where we stand and we stand,
Playing who'll-dive-in-first,
And, fearing the worst,
We listen for seals
Who want us for meals.
I see on penguin lunge,
Then in we all plunge,
Take a bath, gulp a snack,
And climb out in a pack . . . .

Hurry back to our home
For a quick preen and comb
So our feathers aren't wet
As we watch the sun set.  

Poem ©Judy Sierra, 1998. All rights reserved.

If you want to combine poetry with a bit of citizen science, check out Penguin Watch and get involved in counting penguins in images taken by remote cameras monitoring nearly 100 colonies in Antarctica. Here's a screenshot I took of a recent penguin count I worked on. Can you find the chicks?
That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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15. Weekend Links: For the Love of Poetry! (Poetry Month Printables & Links)

Welcome to weekend links!

This is my much-anticipated chance to share all sorts of great links and resources that I have encountered during my weekly Internet travels. I have all sorts of goodies for you today!

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month and also Poem in your Pocket Day?

The internet is buzzing with great links and things to do to celebrate a love of poetry and share it with others. Here are a few of my favs:

Great Poetry Resources:

Keep A Poem in Your Pocket pdf Download Keep A Poem In Your Pocket

Print Some Pocket Poems

Kenn Nesbit’s Poetry4Kids

Giggle Poetry by Meadowbrook Press offers several poetry activities.

Word Mover App for Kids (helps kids form their own poems)

Diamante Poem interactive, kids create verse in the shape of a diamond.

RhymeZone’s Rhyming Dictionary helps kids in their struggle to find words that express their feelings and ideas.

Jack Prelutsky Website for Kids

Shel Silverstein Printables for your pocket

Put a Poem in your pocket

Favorite Poetry Reads

poetry books for kids


**some of these links are affiliate links

Creative Ways to celebrate National Poetry Month

Take it to the streets: Pick a favorite line from a poem and choose a clean piece of sidewalk or pavement to write on. You can search for a poem on Poets.org or check your bookshelf for an old favorite. Use brightly colored chalk to attract attention to your work, and add drawings or artistic flourishes to create some extra fun.

Hide Poems in Fun Places: Leave a copy of a poem in an unexpected place. Donate some poetry books to your local coffee shop or leave them in your doctor’s waiting room. (All those magazines are probably out-of-date anyway, and poetry doesn’t expire.) Post a poem beside the want ads on your supermarket message board. – See more ideas here.
Slip a Poem Into your Loved One’s Lunch Box: Putting notes in lunches is always fun, but how how making the note in the form of a poem? Your surprise poem can be one you love, or one you created yourself.
How will you celebrate National Poetry Month?

Do you know what Hans Christian Andersen liked as much as his fairy tales?
Paper! He was an addict to paper. He wrote on it, he drew on it and he use to cut in it. Just like a sculptor carves the figure out of stone, Hans Christian Andersen use to cut his stories out of paper. In fact he was a very popular paper cutter. (images courtesy of the Odense Museum)
Hans Christian Andersen
In order to amuse his friends and their children, Hans made his very famous paper cuts. Wherever he would go he would carry his bag filled with paper and these very large monstrous scissors which he used to cut out the most elegant figures.

Would you like to create a very special item that is inspired by the paper cuttings of Hans Christian Andersen?
I’ve made a FREE off the shoulder felt story bag craft and tutorial just for this occasion! This simple craft is something the whole family can participate in creating it will make a delightful gift for the book lover in your life. I hope your little bag of tales holds as many wonders for you as ours has.

Click the image below and get instant access to this Hans Christian Andersen-inspired shoulder bag!

The post Weekend Links: For the Love of Poetry! (Poetry Month Printables & Links) appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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16. NPM Celebrations - Week of the Young Child

The Week of the Young Child™ (April 10-16) is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers and families.

This seems like the perfect time to highlight poems that celebrate childhood and outdoor play.

Let's start with an old classic.

The Swing
by Robert Louis Stevenson
(in A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods, 1913)

How do you like to go up in a swing,
   Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
   Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
   Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
   Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
   Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
   Up in the air and down!

Jumping rope is always fun. Here are two poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

Jump Rope
(from In the Spin of Things: Poetry of Motion)

whirls around,
brushed ground
beneath quick feet.
Sweeps walks,
slap, slip
double Dutch,
scissor skip.
Flip, flap,
LOOPS around,
slip, slap,
swoops down.
Slides and swirls,
twirls and twists,
song for a jump rope
sounds like this:
Tiger leap,
spider spin,
your turn next,
jump on in!

Poem © Rebecca Kai Dotlich, 2003. All rights reserved.

Jump Rope Talk
(from Lemonade Sun: And Other Summer Poems)

Jumping, jumping,
Double Dutch
on cement sidewalks
cooled by dusk.
Down in the meadow
where the green grass grows,
there sits Sophie sniffin' at a rose—
Our voices echo
in the air,
Turn around, turn around,
teddy bear—
The street and porch
lights stagger on;
we jump, jump, jump,
and chant these songs:
Peppers are red
and berries are blue,
pick a name to follow you—
Our voices ring
beneath the starts,
Skip to Venus,
jump to Mars—
Jumping, jumping,
Double Dutch,
Mama's got her silver
in the hutch—
we're singing songs
on cracked sidewalks,
Papa keeps his money
in his sock—
to the slap, slap, slap
of jump rope talk!

Poem © Rebecca Kai Dotlich, 1998. All rights reserved.

Let's stick with Lemonade Sun for a moment and think about jacks and marbles!

(from Lemonade Sun: And Other Summer Poems)

and glass moons
rainbows spinning
on and on
pocket treasures,
sidewalk songs.

Poem © Rebecca Kai Dotlich, 1998. All rights reserved.

(from Lemonade Sun: And Other Summer Poems)

from an eager fist,
this silver-mix
goes somersaulting,
falling to the walk,
tin bouquets;
small bundles
of piggyback

Poem © Rebecca Kai Dotlich, 1998. All rights reserved.

Summersaults, written and illustrated by Douglas Florian, is one in a series of 4 books about the seasons. This collection highlights the delights of summer.

Sidewalk Squawk

The sidewalk isn't just for walking.
It's good for talking
And for chalking,
Also running
While you're sunning.
I like biking,
Sidewalk hiking.
Cool for scooting,
And for super-celebrating!

Poem © Douglas Florian, 2002. All rights reserved.

Tomie dePaola's Book of Poems, selected and illustrated by Tomie dePaola, contains a wide variety of poems for young children. Here's a favorite another form or outdoor play.

We're Racing, Racing down the Walk
by Phyllis McGinley

We're racing, racing down the walk,
Over the pavement and round the block.
We rumble along till the sidewalk ends--
Felicia and I and half our friends.
Our hair flies backward. It's whish and whirr!
She roars at me and I shout at her
As past the porches and garden gates
We rattle and rock
On our roller skates.

Poem © Phyllis McGinley. All rights reserved.

Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young (1986), selected by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Marc Brown, contains more than 200 poems for young children.

Just Watch
by Myra Cohn Livingston

     how high
     I'm jumping,

     how far
     I hop,

     how long
     I'm skipping,

                         how fast
                         I stop!

Poem © Myra Cohn Livingston. All rights reserved.

I'm going to wrap this entry up with a favorite from Here's a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry, collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters and illustrated by Polly Dunbar.

Kick a Little Stone
by Dorothy Aldis

When you are walking by yourself
Here's something nice to do:
Kick a little stone and watch it
Hop ahead of you.

The little stone is round and white,
Its shadow round and blue.
Along the sidewalk over the cracks
The shadow bounces too.

Poem © Dorothy Aldis. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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17. NPM Celebrations - International Day of Human Space Flight

April 12th is the International Day of Human Space Flight. Sponsored by the United Nations, this celebration is rooted in the 2011 Declaration on the Fiftieth Anniversary of Human Space Flight and the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. It reads in part:

We, the States Members of the United Nations, in commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of human space flight and the fiftieth anniversary of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space,
  1. Recall the launch into outer space of the first human-made Earth satellite, Sputnik I, on 4 October 1957, thus opening the way for space exploration;
  2. Also recall that, on 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth, opening a new chapter of human endeavour in outer space;
  3. Further recall the amazing history of human presence in outer space and the remarkable achievements since the first human spaceflight, in particular Valentina Tereshkova becoming the first woman to orbit the Earth on 16 June 1963, Neil Armstrong becoming the first human to set foot upon the surface of the Moon on 20 July 1969, and the docking of the Apollo and Soyuz spacecrafts on 17 July 1975, being the first international human mission in space, and recall that for the past decade humanity has maintained a multinational permanent human presence in outer space aboard the International Space Station; 
Here are some poems that celebrate the challenges and accomplishments of putting humans in space.

Blast Off! Poems About Space (1995), compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, is an easy to read anthology containing 20 poems by various poets, including Jane Yolen, Bobbi Katz, J. Patrick Lewis, Ashley Bryan, Lee Bennett Hopkins and others. Since this book is in an easy-reader format, the poems are accessible for young children. 

When I'm An Astronaut 
by Bobbi Katz

First I'll get into my spacesuit.
Then I'll bravely wave good-by.
Next I'll climb into my spacecraft
Built to sail right through the sky!
In command inside the capsule,
I will talk to ground control.
When we've checked out
all the systems,

I'll say, "Let the countdown roll!"
And it's 4-3-2-1 - - blast off - -
With a smile upon my face,
I’ll spin loops around the planets
up, up, up in outer space!

Poem © Bobbi Katz, 1995. All rights reserved.

Hey You!: Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes, and Other Fun Things (2007), selected by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Robert Rayesky, is an anthology entirely filled with poems of address.
Here are two examples.

To An Astronaut
by Beverly McLoughland

When you're in space
So far away
With darkness all around,

And you see the little Earth
Do you miss its windy sound?

Do you feel alone
With endless space
The neighbor at your door?

Do you miss the Earth
So far away?
Do you love it even more?

Poem ©Beverly McLoughlan. All rights reserved.

Out of This World: Poems and Facts about Space (2012), written by Amy Sklansky and illustrated by Stacy Schuett, is a collection of poems about space and space exploration. Readers will also find explanations and fun facts in the margins.

Space Suit

No astronaut
is ever caught
without a suit in space

The temperatures,
extreme for sure,
make it a hostile place.

Lack of air
to breathe out there
means oxygen is key.

The suit deflects
as it protects
from any injury.

Good work is done
in shade or sun,
though movement does lack grade.

No astronaut
is ever caught
without a suit in space

Poem © Amy Sklansky, 2012. All rights reserved.

A Burst of Firsts: Doers, Shakers, and Record Breakers (2001), written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Brian Ajhar, is a collection of 22 poems about men and women who dared something special and accomplished it first.

First Men on the Moon
by J. Patrick Lewis

"The Eagle has landed!" —Apollo II Commander Neil A. Armstrong
"A magnificent desolation!" — Air Force Colonel Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr.
July 20, 1969

That afternoon in mid-July,
Two pilgrims watched from distant space
The moon ballooning in the sky.
They rose to meet it face-to-face.

Their spidery spaceship, Eagle, dropped
Down gently on the lunar sand.
And when the module's engines stopped,
Rapt silence fell across the land.

The first man down the ladder, Neil,
Spoke words that we remember now—
“One small step...” It made us feel
As if we were there too, somehow.

When Neil planted the flag and Buzz
Collected lunar rocks and dust,
They hopped like kangaroos because
Of gravity. Or wanderlust?

A quarter million miles away,
One small blue planet watched in awe.
And no one who was there that day
Will soon forget the sight they saw.

Poem © J. Patrick Lewis, 2001. All rights reserved.

Skywriting: Poems to Fly (2010), written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Laszlo Kubinyi, is a collection of 13 poems that trace the history of our obsession with flight, beginning with the myth of Icarus and ending with the space shuttle.

Space Shuttle

2002, United States

I am the behemoth of adventure, I am the shuttle of Uncle Same,
I run like thirty-nine locomotives, or twenty-three revved-up Hoover Dams.

Seventeen thousand miles per hour in just about eight seconds flat!
I burn a sixty-one hundred Fahrenheit — says so on my thermostat.

I carry people who like to walk in a wilderness outward-bound.
I am your front-row ticket to celestial theater in the round.

Poem © J. Patrick Lewis, 2010. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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18. A Girl Called Vincent

A Girl Called Vincent: The Life of Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay  by Krystyna Poray Goddu Chicago Review Press, 2016 ISBN: 978-1-61373-172-7 Grades 5 and up April is Poetry Month, so it's fitting that A Girl Called Vincent was released earlier this month. The biography provides middle grade and teen readers with an in-depth look at the life of Edna St. Vincent Millay, who was known to her friends

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19. NPM Celebrations - National Scrabble™ Day

April 13th is National Scrabble™ Day. In 1931, Alfred Mosher Butts invented a game where players use lettered squares to make words in a crossword puzzle manner.  First called Lexiko, then Criss-Cross Words, it was eventually renamed Scrabble. This celebration falls on the day that Alfred Mosher Butts was born in 1899. Today Scrabble is sold in more than 120 countries and comes in 29 different language versions.

Since Scrabble™ is all about word play, today's poems focus on letters and words in interesting ways.

A Voweller's Bestiary: From Aardvark to Guineafowl (And H), written by JonArno Lawson is a collection of lipograms. (A lipogram is a piece of writing that avoids one or more letters of the alphabet. You can read more about lipograms at A.Word.A.Day.) The poems in this book use cues from the titles to determine the vowels left out. For example, the title Fly, Lynx contains only the vowel y, so the poem contains only words with the vowel y.

Fly, Lynx
by JonArno Lawson

Lynx: 'Fly, fly.'
Fly: 'Why, lynx?'
Lynx: 'Try.'
Fly: 'Why try?'
Lynx: 'Shy, fly?'
Fly: 'Shy??!! Bzzzzzz! Zm! Zm! Zm!'
Lynx: 'Tsk tsk! My my!'

Not only does Lawson restrict himself to using only words containing vowels from the poem's title, but he also restricts himself to using only those words that include ALL the vowels in the title. Here's another example.

by JonArno Lawson

Successful ventures
elude luckless turtle.

turbulent, unexpected undercurrent
pushes turtle further under.

Turtle gurgles, unnerved.
Blunders rudderless,

suffers, unsure.
Fumbles, tumbles,



Poems © JonArno Lawson, 2008. All rights reserved.

Well Defined: Vocabulary in Rhyme (2009), written by Michael Salinger and illustrated by Sam Henderson, offers poetic definitions for a number of "two-dollar words." These are not your run-of-the-mill dictionary definitions, but clever, memorable twists of phrases that get to the heart of the matter.

Brevity gets right to the point
doesn't dawdle, dicker, or delay
always short and sweet whenever
there is something to do
or say
brevity comes in handy when you
are subject to a chewing out
a bout of the flu
a pain in the neck
or waiting in line for the loo
in fact, this poem has gone on so long
that its recital
would no longer qualify
as an example of its title

[brevity: conciseness of expression shortness]

Poem © Michael Salinger, 2009. All rights reserved.

Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word (2011), by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Nancy Doniger, is a collection of poems described as "part anagram, part rebus, part riddle." As the jacket flap says, "this brand new poetic form turns word puzzles into poetry. Using only the letters from a single word, each of the poems in this collection capture a scene from daily life and present a puzzle to solve." This means that this book is also a collection of lipograms. Raczka used the letters from each poem title as the ONLY letters allowed in the poem ABOUT that word. 





Poem © Bob Raczka, 2011. All rights reserved.

This typed poem is a bit of cheat really, as interpreting the poems as they're written on the page is so important. You see, the letters in the poem actually align to the letter placement in the word. Because of this, the visual is important. Here's what the poem above actually looks like. (Click to enlarge.)
To see more images from the book, check out the Macmillan Books' photostream.

FEG: Ridiculous Stupid Poems for Intelligent Children (2002), written by Robin Hirsch and illustrated by Ha, is a collection of delightful, witty, guffawable (is that a word?) poems about homonyms, word roots, puns, idioms, phrases, and all sorts of weird occurrences in the English language. Each poem is accompanied by a footnote of explanation.


Feeling suddenly unusually rich
I threw open the door until it lay
     flat against the wall
There on the ground lay
     five cards of the same suit
Boy, was my face
     the color of a heart or diamond
I ran into the bathroom
     and threw them down the toilet
     does a toilet belong in a poem?)

And here's an excerpt from the footnote that accompanies this poem.
Now, just to make things more interesting, flush is neither a graph nor a phone, it's a nym—a homonym, which means having the same name. In other words, in all its multiple meanings, it has the same spelling and the same pronunciation. So it appears to be the same word both to the eye and to the ear. Out of context even the brain has a hard time figuring it out—you need a context to flush out the meaning (whoops, sorry!)
Poem and Text © Robin Hirsch, 2002. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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20. Illustration and Poetry (With Cats!)

"Love is the mystery of water and a star." –Pablo Neruda 

April is National Poetry Month. Below is a new piece of art inspired by this
snippet of a poem, step-by-step, working backwards. Enjoy!

After much fussing over details... the final art!

Building up the color.

Another view from the drawing table.

First pencil layer.

Rough color thoughts and a few tweaks on a printout of the sketch.

The original pencil sketch.

Sketchbook thumbnails. (No wonder I can't read my own handwriting!)

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21. NPM Celebrations - International Moment of Laughter Day

April 14th is International Moment of Laughter Day. Dreamed up by Izzy Gesell, the day is designed to encourage more people to laugh. Gesell recommends celebrating by:
  • laughing out loud at the funny cards in a greeting card shop
  • calling a friend to share a funny story
  • getting naked, looking in the mirror and laughing
  • buying a "laugh-box" in a joke shop and turning it on at work or at home
  • showing your baby pictures to someone who's never seen them
  • thinking up your own way to get someone else to laugh with you
  • or just laughing for no apparent reason at all

While these are good suggestions, I have another ... POETRY! Here are some poems and collections sure to make you smile, it not giggle a bit.

I can open any Shel Silverstein collection and find something to make me laugh. Here's a favorite.
Check out ShelSilverstein.com to learn more about his books and read additional poems. You can also view animations of a number of them.

Jack Prelutsky is another poet for whom I can always turn to for a laugh. Here's one from the book A Pizza the Size of the Sun, written by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by James Stevenson.

I’d Never Need A Haircut
by Jack Prelutsky

I’d never need a haircut
if I didn’t have a head,
and probably could manage
with no pillows on my bed.
I’d toss away the woolen cap
that shields me from the snow,
and soon dispense with tissues,
for I’d have no nose to blow.

I wouldn’t need a toothpick,
for I’d have no teeth to pick.
I’d have no tongue to talk with,
and I’d have no lips to lick.
I could slice a million onions
without shedding any tears,
and never have to wash behind
my nonexistent ears.

I’d have a new perspective
if my head should disappear,
and find it quite a challenge
showing anger, joy, or fear.
My parents would be puzzled,
they’d be baffled, they would stare,
when they made the observation
that my noodle wasn’t there.

There might be minor drawbacks
if the space above my neck
should become the site of nothing
more substantial than a speck.
I’d have to make adjustments
when I wanted to be fed—
I’d have a different outlook
if I didn’t have a head.

Poem © Jack Prelutsky, 1994. All rights reserved.

Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs, written by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins, is a collection of humorous epitaphs highlighting the final moments in the lives of a number of different animals.

Ciao, Cow

This grave is peaceful,
the tombstone shaded,
but I'm not here—
I've been cream-ated.

Poem © J. Patrick Lewis, 2012. All rights reserved.

Final Pound for a Hound

Once he dug holes in the lawn;
now he's there himself,

Poem © Jane Yolen, 2012. All rights reserved.

Kenn Nesbitt, former Children's Poet Laureate (2013-15), shares all kinds of funny poems on his web site, Poetry4Kids.com. (You'll find them in his books too!) Here's a fun one.

I Tried to Take a Selfie
by Kenn Nesbitt

I tried to take a selfie
when I was all alone.
I never should have done it.
It broke my mobile phone.

I guess I'm not so pretty.
I thought that I was cuter.
I snapped one with my laptop
and busted the computer.

I cracked my father's camera.
My mother's iPad too.
This shouldn't be so difficult.
I don't know what to do.

At last I got a selfie;
perhaps the worst one yet.
I posted it online today.
It broke the Internet.

Poem © Kenn Nesbitt, 2015. All rights reserved.

Kenn also does some really great videos for his poems. Here's an example.

I'll close this post with a favorite from Mary Ann Hoberman. You can find this poem in Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers: A Collection of Family Poems (1991), written by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Marylin Hafner.

Pick Up Your Room
by Mary Ann Hoberman

Pick up your room, my mother says
     (She says it every day);
My room’s too heavy to pick up,
     (That’s what I always say).

Drink up your milk, she says to me,
     Don’t bubble like a clown;
Of course she knows I’ll answer that
     I’d rather drink it down.

And when she says at eight o’clock,
     You must go right to bed,
We both repeat my answer:
     Why not go left instead?

Poem © Mary Ann Hoberman, 1991. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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22. NPM Celebrations - World Art Day

April 15th is World Art Day. Celebrated on Leonardo da Vinci's birthday, this day is designed to promote all forms of art and serve as a reminder that art is a symbol of free expression, multiculturalism, tolerance, and peace.

This is a good day to celebrate individual artists in poetry, as well as poetry about art. For last year's National Poetry Month project on poetic forms, I tackled Ekphrastic Poems and highlighted a number of poems inspired by works of art. For today's post I'd like to highlight the work of three poets, Margarita Engle, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Carmen Bernier-Grand, all of whom have written numerous poems about men and women in the arts.

Margarita Engle
The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano (2006), written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Sean Qualls, is a biography in verse that uses alternating points of view to tell Juan's horrific and beautiful story. His first owner allowed both his parents to buy their freedom and she promised he would be freed upon her death. However, Juan Francisco remained a slave after Dona Beatriz’s death. Here is one of the early poems in the book.


Three hundred pesos, is it a lot?
I like to imagine that I already have enough
     to buy them all
     mother, father, unborn brothers and sisters

     what it would be like
     to buy yourself
     and wrap yourself up in a package
     and walk away
     carrying yourself
     under your arm
     like a book

     how it will happen
     in just a few years
     on the day
     of her death
     doesn't she wonder
     how it feels to know that all I need now
     is a swift ending for her
     in order to make a sweet beginning for me?

Poem © Margarita Engle, 2006. All rights reserved.

The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist (2015), written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Aliona Bereghici, is a collection of poems about the life of Louis Agassiz Fuertes, the man known as the father of modern bird art.


When I am fourteen, I finally
have the chance to paint my first
brightly colored bird,
a red crossbill
with a funny beak.

I use a pen to sketch the outline
and watercolors to fill in the feathers.
Then I try adding more details
with ink, but my painting
starts to look muddy.

If I want to be a bird artist,
I can't get discouraged.
I need to practice.
I have to draw, draw, draw!

Poem © Margarita Engle, 2015. All rights reserved.

Drum Dream Girl (2015), written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Raphael Lopez, is a book length free verse poem inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga. Born in Cuba in the 1920s, she was drawn to drumming, a tradition which did not include women. Here is an excerpt.

At home, her fingertips
rolled out their own
dreamy drum rhythm
on tables and chairs ...

and even though everyone
kept reminding her that girls
on the island of music
had never played drums

the brave drum dream girl
dared to play
tall conga drums
small bongó drums
and big, round, silvery
moon-bright timables.

Poem © Margarita Engle, 2015. All rights reserved.

Carole Boston Weatherford
Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane (2008), written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Sean Qualls, is a book-length poem that explores the influence of music on Coltrane's life long became he became famous. He listened closely to the world around him and exercised and amazing gift for hearing and creating music. Back matter includes information about Coltrane's life and work, as well as a list of some of his most well known recordings.

Before John was a jazz giant,
he heard hambones knocking in Grandma's pots,
Daddy strumming the ukulele,
and Mama cranking the phonograph.

Before John was a jazz giant,
he heard steam engines whistling past,
Cousin Mary giggling at jitterbuggers,
and Bo-jangles tap dancing in the picture show.

Poem © Carole Boston Weatherford, 2008. All rights reserved.

Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century (2014), written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Raul Colon, is a lyrical picture book biography of the African American opera singer.

1927. Laurel, Mississippi.
The line between black and white
Was as wide as the Mississippi River was long.
All a black girl from the Cotton Belt could expect
was a heap of hard work—as a maid, millworker, or sharecropper.
Her song, most surely the blues.

Yes, the Mississippi Delta cradled misery,
but from day one, Mary Violet Leontyne Price
heard a different refrain—her mama, Katie, singing hymns;
her daddy, James, playing tuba for the church band;
the flock, greeting praise songs with hallelujahs.

Poem © Carole Boston Weatherford, 2014. All rights reserved.

Becoming Billie Holiday (2008), written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, is a fictional verse memoir that tells the story of Holiday's life from birth through age 25. The poems carry titles from Billie’s songbook. The writing is tender and vivid, matter-of-factly portraying the ups and downs that dominated the singer's life.

How Deep Is The Ocean
Without the microphone
there would be no spotlight,
no band backing me
with bluesy swing.

My voice was too small,
barely an octave,
but the mic enlarged my songs,
let me hold listeners close.

With the microphone,
my voice was an ocean,
deep as my moods,
and audiences dove in.

Poem © Carole Boston Weatherford, 2008. All rights reserved.

Sugar Hill: Harlem's Historic Neighborhood (2014), written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, is a ryhming book length poem about the neighborhood so many artists called home. Referenced in the text are musicians, artists, entertainers, writers, and more.  Back matter provides additional information about figures highlighted in the text and illustrations, including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Faith Ringgold, Zora Neale Hurston, and others.

Where the BEST and BRIGHTEST strive and shine
and STAIRWAYS lead right to cloud nine

Where grand TOWNHOMES lend river views
and parties swing to JAZZ and BLUES

and the NEIGHBORS smile at all they greet.

Poem © Carole Boston Weatherford, 2014. All rights reserved.

Carmen Bernier-Grand
Frida: ¡Viva la vida! Long Live Life! (2007), written by Carmen Bernier-Grand with paintings by Frida Kahlo, is a collection of 26 poems that capture Kahlo's strength in the face of adversity, her passion, and the poignant experiences that marked her life. Here is a poem describing an early event that shaped her life.

Hummingbird Wings

I am a wounded hummingbird
caged in my room for nine months
with polio, crippling polio.

Warm towels soaked in walnut water
ease the pain in my leg,
a thin, drying twig.

I hide in the walnut wardrobe,
put on a white sock,
another on top,
and another.
Is the right leg as fat as the other?

The cage opens.
Now I have wings.

Poem © Carmen Bernier-Grand, 2007. All rights reserved.

Diego: Bigger Than Life (2009), written by Carmen Bernier-Grand and illustrated by David Diaz,  is a collection of 34 poems about Diego Rivera that highlight the unmistakeable connection between his passionate, controversial life and his art. Here's a poem that describes his art.

Brimming With Mexican Light

As naturally as I breathe,
I painted in grand scale the colors of Mexico—
clearer, richer, more full of light than colors in Europe.

As naturally as I speak,
I painted in grand scale the music of Mexico
in markets, crowds, festivals—
Burning of the Judases, the Dance of the Deer.

As naturally as I sweat,
I painted in grand scale the workers of Mexico
in fields, mines, streets—
Indians carrying bundles of calla lilies.

A million public walls
wouldn't be enough
to paint all the beauty of Mexico.

Poem © Carmen Bernier-Grand, 2009. All rights reserved.

Picasso: I the King, Yo el rey (2012), written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand and illustrated by David Diaz, is a collection of 40 poems

"I Am God"

"God is really another artist.
He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat.
He has no style. He just keeps trying other things."
Picasso paints late into the night, an owl his only companion.

When Picasso emptied himself of painting, he draws,
when he has emptied himself of drawings, he makes ceramics,
when he has emptied himself of ceramics, he makes prints,
when he has emptied himself of print making, he sculpts,
when he has emptied himself of sculpting, he illustrates
when he has emptied himself of illustrating, he photographs,
when he has emptied himself of photographing, he writes poems,
when he has emptied himself of writing poems, Picasso paints.

An old wicker basket becomes the ribs of a goat.
A bicycle seat becomes a bull's head, the handlebars it horns.
Claude's toy cars become the head of Baboon and Young.
Picasso seldom titles his works.
Others do.
He has stopped signing his art.
What for? He knows who has done them.

"I am God ... I am God ... I am God."

Poem © Carmen Bernier-Grand, 2012. All rights reserved.

Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina, written by Carmen Bernier-Grand and illustrated
by Raúl Colón, is a free verse biography of the Cuban dancer. In more than 30 poems, Bernier-Grand shares the achievements of Alonso, despite the difficulties that marked her life.

First Solo

Her feet hurt.
Her legs hurt.
Her arms hurt.
But ballet dancing
tastes better
than chocolate ice cream.

December 1932
     * * *
Alicia's first solo--
a bluebird spinning
and fluttering in a light,
airy flight.
A dance for Princess Aurora
who has been asleep for a hundred years,
and for the prince
who has woken her up with a kiss.

Poem © Carmen Bernier-Grand, 2012. All rights reserved.

I promised to highlight three poets today, but there is just one more book I must share.

Self-Portrait With Seven Fingers: The Life of Marc Chagall in Verse (2011, written by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, is a collection of 14 poems (named for the art by Chagall) about the artist's upbringing. The text is paired with reproductions of Chagall's paintings, as well as a few photographs. In addition to the poems and images is a nonfiction narrative describing the events in the poems. Here are two poems from the book.

I and the Village

I hailed a milkmaid standing on her head
I saw a cow a-milking in a cow's head
I watched a peasant off to canvass tillage
I met the very universe in a village
I spied a blossom sprig, a tree of life
I loved Vitebsk in glory and in strife
I scanned a multitude of images, with mirror
I etched a dream and strove to make it clearer
I solved the riddle imagined by a child
I sketched a field, geometry gone wild
I knew myself, white lips, my face in green
I drew the cow's contentment in between

Poem © J. Patrick Lewis, 2011. All rights reserved.

The Flying Horse

There is no arguing with soldiers,
no pleading while wearing the yellow star.
There is only escape: on the rails, in the air,
on foot across the mountains, one by one by one,
leaving behind the camps where men in stripes
and women with shaved heads,
and the children—never forget the children—
rock to and for with G-d's name on their lips.
So you leave behind the bistros of Paris,
soldiers lurking in every corner of the city;
leave behind a lifetime of work,
paintings of Vitebsk on every wall.
But Death, that old leveler,
can find you wherever you go,
even on a sledge pulled by a rooster,
even as you rise into the darkling skies.

Poem © Jane Yolen, 2011. All rights reserved.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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23. NPM Celebrations - National Park Week

April 16-24 is National Park Week. This is a particularly appropriate year to celebrate, as the National Park Service turns 100 years old this year. National Park week is marked as "America's largest celebration of national heritage." During this time, admission to all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone. So don't spend all your time on the computer. Get out there and enjoy exploring some amazing places.

My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn, is a collection of 50 poems grouped by geographic region. It includes the northeast states, Capital, southeast states, Great Lakes states, plains states, mountain states, southwest states, and Pacific coast states. The section for each region is prefaced with a map and facts about each state, including capital, nickname, motto, bird, flower, tree, area, and one "great fact." 

Zion National Park - Utah
by Fran Haraway

Canyon walls remain unchanged by days
Standing as they did when earth began.
Massive rock, passive to nature's ways
Unmoved by inquisitiveness of man.
Yet each evening brings a constant change.
Shadows quilt each hill and canyon wall.
Pastel patchworks gently rearrange
Antique patterns, then night covers all.

Poem © Fran Haraway. All rights reserved.

Tour America: A Journey Through Poems and Ar (2006), written by Diane Siebert and illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson, is a collection of 26 poems of varying length about a range of places and things around the United States. In her author's note, Siebert explains how a summer motorcycle trip across the U.S. turned into a 10-year journey around the country. In TOUR AMERICA she wrote about some of her favorite sights, including the Everglades, gargoyles, Lucy the Elephant, Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful, The Golden Gate bridge, and more. The book opens with a map of the U.S. with dots and illustrated captions highlighting the sights.

Mount Rushmore
South Dakota

A distant dream, a complex plan,
A work in granite carved by man,
A piece of art, its presence fills
This corner of the great Black hills.

Four faces on a mountainside,
It speaks of patriotic pride--
A tribute, silent and immense,
To four distinguished presidents.

Recall their names and what they've done--
The leadership of Washington;
The insights Jefferson revealed;
Abe Lincoln's Union, torn, then healed;
The lands preserved by Roosevelt--
The impact of their lives still felt
By each of us who celebrates
Our life in these United States.

Each poem in this collection is accompanied by a brief bit of informational text. Here's the text for this poem.
MOUNT RUSHMORE - The 60-foot-high faces of four U.S. presidents were carved by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his team beginning in 1927. Approximately 500,000 tons of rock were dynamited to expose the softer granite into which the images were chiseled. Borglum dies 14 years later, just a few months before the memorial was finished. His son supervised the project's completion, and the national monument was dedicated in 1941.
Poem and Text © Diane Siebert, 2006. All rights reserved.

The illustrations beautifully complement the poems. In the artist's note Johnson says "And so, in keeping with the forms, contents, and moods of Diane's poems, my artwork, in a variety of mediums--acrylic, charcoal, colored pencils, collage, gouache, graphite, ink, oils, pastel, photography and watercolors--celebrates the colors, diversity, and rich textures of America."

Here's one more poem from this collection.

Old Faithful

Far beneath the quiet soil
Where molten rock lies glowing,
A cache of water starts to boil,
And then, with pressure growing,

The steam and water start to rise
Up through the age-old routing
As people lift astonished eyes
To watch Old Faithful spouting.

Poem  © Diane Siebert, 2006. All rights reserved.
Amazing Places (2015), with poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrations by Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale, is a collection of 14 poems that highlights landscapes, historical sites, and cultures across the United States. The poem below is actually a shape poem that was hard to reproduce here, so be sure to click the image above to see what it's meant to look like.

S A N D Y  H O O K  L I G H T H O U S E
storms rage, lightning
lightning carckles,
deters me.
I have
stoon on 
duty in this
place for 
more than two
of the sea,
I battle
piece it
with sabers
of light,
warn you
away from
shoals . . . 
to protect you,
welcome you to
New York Harbor,
keep you SAFE.
S A N D Y  H O O K

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom! (2015), edited by J. Patrick Lewis, is  a collection of classic and contemporary poems that celebrate the variety of life and landscapes on Earth.

Fossil Beds at the Badlands
Badlands National Park, South Dakota, U.S.A.

take a few turns, absorb the jagged shapes.
Saber-toothed cats sleeping,
wild horse dreams pressed into rock.
No quiet bigger than theirs.
Step gently, touch nothing,
does anyone remember?
Once they roamed the land of shining grasses,
owning sky. Tonight there's a bighorn sheep,
his back to the sunset, prairie dogs huddling
underground. How does so much disappear?

This kingdom holds lost hopes.
They are orange now. Some look like
fingers pointing to the sky.
Drop your own pain, no one will know.
Navigate soft sediment, whispering Rhino.
Everyone's emptiness made elegant,
even the bison and black-footed ferret,
even the woman, even the man.

Poem  © Naomi Shihab Nye. All rights reserved.

Monday on the Mississippi, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Frané Lessac, is a poetic trip down the Mississippi River, from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana. Each day of the week celebrates a new location on the river.

Saturday on the Mississippi
Vicksburg, Mississippi

The guide is telling a tale dark as the gathering clouds:
"1863. North and South. Whoever held this river
was sure to win the war."
Thunder booms like cannonfire.
The visitors jump, then watch wide-eye
as the wind grabs the guide's favorite hat
and tosses it into the water.
The Mississippi waves it once like a tattered flag,
then swallows it whole.

Poem ©Marilyn Singer. All rights reserved.

If you are interested in the National Parks highlighted in these poems, you'll find them at the links below.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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24. NPM Celebrations - National Environmental Education Week

April 17-23 is National Environmental Education Week, a time when we encourage and celebrate environmental learning. The Environmental Protect Agency describes environmental education this way: "Environmental education does not advocate a particular viewpoint or course of action. Rather, environmental education teaches individuals how to weigh various sides of an issue through critical thinking and it enhances their own problem-solving and decision-making skills." To do this, we must ensure that we raise kids with an awareness and sensitivity to the environment and the environmental challenges that exist.

Poetry is a great resource for making kids aware of the beauty of their natural world. I could share hundreds of poems on this as, as nature is fodder for poets, so choosing is hard. Here are a few favorites.

The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination, with poems selected by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston, is a stunning collection of nature poetry and information. The book includes a CD where many of the selected poets read their own works. Footnotes accompany many of the poems. These include explications of both the content and form of the poem. There is also a glossary of scientific and poetic terms, as well as a brief biography of the included poets. This is one of my favorite science poetry collections.

The World
by Mary Oliver

I would like to write a poem about the world that has in it
   nothing fancy.
But it seems impossible.
Whatever the subject, the morning sun
   glimmers it.
The tulip feels the heat and flaps its petals open
   and becomes a star.
The ants bore into the peony bud and there is a dark
   pinprick well of sweetness.
As for the stones on the beach, forget it.
Each one could be set in gold.
So I tried with my eyes shut, but of course the birds
   were singing.
And the aspen trees were shaking the sweetest music
   out of their leaves.
And that was followed by, guess what, a momentous and
   beautiful silence
   as comes to all of us, in little earfuls, if we’re not too
   hurried to hear it.
As for spiders, how the dew hangs in their webs
   even if they say nothing, or seem to say nothing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe they sing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe the stars sing too,
   and the ants, and the peonies, and the warm stones,
   so happy to be where they are, on the beach, instead of being
   locked up in gold.

Poem © Mary Oliver. All rights reserved.

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature, written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Mark Herald, is a collection of poems that move through the year from spring to winter. Each seasonal section contains more than 12 poems and includes a mix of reflections and suggestions for how children can enjoy the world around them. A nice blend of science and poetry, the verses are easy to read and offer plenty of information.


In the treetops, in the bushes,
there are new songs and colors.
The little birds are back!

The've flown so far!
Over forests, mountains, deserts, seas—
such a long, long way to get back to us.

Yet here they are,
bright and alive, fluttering, singing,
ready for spring.

Poem © Nicola Davies. All rights reserved.

The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound: A Birder's Journal, written and illustrated by Sallie Wolf and designed by Micah Bornstein, is a beautiful nature journal that includes poetry, sketches, watercolors and more. The scrapbook look and feel of this book has been created using by Wolf's actual sketches and drawings that have been manipulated in PhotoShop.  The Author's Note in the beginning describes how a teacher ignited Wolf's love and passion for bird-watching.

Organized by season, the pages contain a wealth of information about bird watching, bird identification, and behavior.  Here's the journal entry and poem that give the book its title.

March 26 - I saw a cardinal & a robin perched in the same young maple, both singing.

The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound

The robin makes a laughing sound.
It makes me stop and look around
to see just what the robin sees—
fresh new leaves on twigs of trees,
a strong high branch on which to rest,
a safe, dry ledge to hold its nest.
The robin makes a laughing sound.
I stop. I always look around.

Poem ©Sallie Wolf. All rights reserved.

The Green Mother Goose: Saving the World One Rhyme at a Time, written by Jan Peck and David Davis and illustrated by Carin Berger, presents 30 well-known nursery rhymes and children's songs, rewritten as parodies with an eco-friendly twist. Collectively these poems promote both healthy living and conservation activities. The rhymes deliver positive messages in an inventive and catchy way, though some readers may find a few of the poems didactic. The illustrations support the notion of going green in that they are composed of recycled materials, scraps of paper, and other ephemera. The book opens with this poem.

Green Mother Goose

Together we’ll do it—
We’ll help save the Earth,
Our emerald home,
The place of our birth.
Come now, rhyme with me,
Let’s turn our hearts loose,
And fly ‘round the world
With Green Mother Goose.

The rhymes cover a range of topics, including solar energy, reusable shopping bags, carpooling, organic gardening, replacing incandescent lightbulbs, and much more. Here's one more example.

Sister Moon and Brother Sun

Sister Moon and Brother Sun,
Bless our world when day is done.
Four gentle prayers for Mother Earth,
Four angels round her head:
One for sun and one for rain
And two to heal the Earth again.

Poems ©Jan Peck and David Davis. All rights reserved.

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom! (2015), edited by J. Patrick Lewis, is  a collection of classic and contemporary poems that celebrate the variety of life and landscapes on Earth. This is also one of my favorite collection of poems celebrating nature and science.

from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
by George Gordon, Lord Byron

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more.

(You can read the canto this excerpt came from at  Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage: Canto the Fourth. Scroll down to CLXXVIII.)
I'll close today with two favorites from Emily Dickinson. These can be found in Emily Dickinson, Complete Poems (1924).

from Part Two: Nature

The grass so little has to do,—
  A sphere of simple green,
With only butterflies to brood,
And bees to entertain,
And stir all day to pretty tunes        
The breezes fetch along,
And hold the sunshine in its lap
And bow to everything;
And thread the dews all night, like pearls,
And make itself so fine,—        
A duchess were too common
For such a noticing.
And even when it dies, to pass
In odors so divine,
As lowly spices gone to sleep,        
Or amulets of pine.
And then to dwell in sovereign barns,
And dream the days away,—
The grass so little has to do,
I wish I were a hay!

from Part Five: The Single Hound

Nature is what we see,
  The Hill, the Afternoon—
Squirrel, Eclipse, the Bumble-bee,
Nay—Nature is Heaven.
Nature is what we hear,        
The Bobolink, the Sea—
Thunder, the Cricket—
Nay,—Nature is Harmony.
Nature is what we know
But have no art to say,        
So impotent our wisdom is
To Her simplicity.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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25. NPM Celebrations - World Heritage Day

April 18th is World Heritage Day. UNESCO established this day in 1983 as the International Day for Monuments and Sites. This celebration is designed to "raise public awareness about the diversity and vulnerability of the world's built monuments and heritage sites and the efforts required to protect and conserve them." World Heritage sites can be cultural, natural, or a mixture of both. To date there are 1007 sites on the list, located in 161 countries around the world.

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom! (2015), edited by J. Patrick Lewis, is  a collection of classic and contemporary poems that celebrate the variety of life and landscapes on Earth. You'll find poems about a number of natural heritage sites here, including the Great Barrier Reef, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Galápagos: Hood Island, and more. Here are two poems about natural heritage sites outside the United States.

Lake Baikal
The oldest and deepest lake on Earth,
Lake Baikal, in the south of the Russian
region of Siberia, holds a fifth of the planet's 
unfrozen freshwater.

If Earth could fit within your cupped hands,
and the lands slipped free between the fingers,
and the skies' blue released between the thumbs,
and the oceans' tears seeped along your arms,

then you hold the planet's water in your palm.
Lift it to your lips. Sip that primal fresh.
And that crazed marble, that sapphire cat's-eye
in the rivulet that crosses your creased flesh?

That is Lake Baikal: frozen time.
Gaze into the blue. That glint?
It's Earth's beginning
staring back at you.

Poem © Michael J. Rosen. All rights reserved.

Wonder Down Under
Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia

I'm know around the rockin' world by many,
enchanted by my ruddy, wrinkled dome.
But neighbors of my ilk? I don't have any.
The harsh and empty outback is my home.
My power is mysterious and mythic.
My people, the Anangu, understand
that I am more than simply monolithic—
I am a huge Australian rock star in the sand.

And though I love your awe and admiration,
applaud me from a distance if you will.
I'm big enough for long range observation,
and I can guarantee you'll get a thrill.
In photos or in person you will gawk,

even if you'r not a fan of rock.

Poem © Ted Scheu. All rights reserved.

A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme (2002), written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Alison Jay, is a collection of poems about explorers, places on the map (Sandwich Islands, Italy, Angel Falls, Mount Everest etc.), the globe itself (latitude v. longitude, equator and the poles), earth science topics (aurora borealis, San Andreas fault, stalactites v. stalagmites), and many other things. This is a terrific book for introducing a mix of geography topics, as well as science topics like biomes, ecology and natural resources. The poem below is actually a shape poem that was hard to reproduce here, so be sure to click the image above to see what it's meant to look like.

Angel Falls
3,212 feet tall

t h e 
w o r l d ' s
t  a  l  l  e  s  t
t    h    u    n    d    e    r    -
s       h       o       w       e       r       !

 Poem ©J. Patrick Lewis, 2002. All rights reserved.

Lady Liberty: A Biography (2008), written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares, is a collection of free verse poems that tells the story of the project that eventually saw the completion of the Statue of Liberty, a project that stretched over 20 years and took place on two continents. 

Joseph Pulitzer
Publisher, New York World
New York City, August 1886

Liberty's skeleton is now anchored
to the pedestal,
bolted to huge girders
that protrude from the concrete.
Eighty-nine feet tall, twenty feet thick,
and faced with granite,
the pedestal is more majestic than I had hoped.
I am humbled by my readers' generosity.
Many who have so little gave so much
to build this noble structure.

Liberty arrived in 214 crates.
On her trip across the ocean,
vicious storms buffeted the ship.
Labels fell off crates.
Pieces of her copper skin were shaken.
Many need to be reshaped.

Slowly each copper sheet
is hoisted up with heavy ropes.
The workers sit on the crossbars,
fitting her copper skin to the skeleton.
When one piece doesn't fit,
they haul up another and try it,
then another,
until they find the right one.
The first piece of copper skin attached
to the skeleton is name "Bartholdi."
The second piece is christened "Pulitzer."

Each day she grows more beautiful.
I predict that those who once mocked her
will soon love her and understand
her power and significance.

Poem ©Doreen Rappaport, 2008. All rights reserved.

An Old Shell: Poems of the Galapagos (1999), written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Tom Pohrt, is a collection of 34 poems (most written in free verse, though a few are written in haiku) in which Johnston pays tribute to the wonder that is the Galapagos. The book opens with a two-page map of the islands. The poem topics include the sea, the islands, animals, plants, and more. 

The Birth of Fernandina Island

One molten morning
the world
in sprays of sparks,
plumes of smoke,
     of lava,
from the sea's crucible
with a great hiss
to make this terrible

Nesting, Genovesa Island

Watch the white petals
of fluttering gulls brush the
stone face of the cliff.

Poems ©Tony Johnston, 1999. All rights reserved.

Gary Geddes, a contemporary Canadian poet, wrote a series of poems in the voices of figures in the Terracotta Army. The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.


Before double-ninth day, my measure was taken
in a single sitting, so sure were Lao Bi’s

eye and hand. The tenth month I returned
with armoured vest and spear and struck a pose

that pleased him so much he laughed out loud
and threw his wineskin at my feet.

He called me the youngest of the Immortals
and promised me a place in the glory-line.

The likeness was uncanny, not just the face,
but the way the sleeves bunched up at the wrists,

studs and fluted leather of the shoulder-pads.
I was drawn to it again and again as if by magic.

One day, without warning, we left for the frontier
and I felt a greater reluctance

to part with this pottery replica of myself
than I had in taking leave of my own village.

Bi used to slap me on the back and say,
you’re too serious to be a soldier.

Poems ©Gary Geddes. All rights reserved.

You can read additional poems at BBC Radio 4: Terracotta Army.

If you are interested in the World Heritage sites highlighted in these poems, you'll find them at the links below.
That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.

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