Thursday, July 16, 2020

IMAGINE by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Maureen (Moe) McKeon-Phillips and her talented team have created another beautiful film of a poem-- this time for the poem, "Imagine" by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Rebecca is the author of many award-winning titles including poetry collections such as Lemonade Sun, In the Spin of Things, and Grumbles From The Forest: Fairy Tale Voices with a Twist (co-authored with Jane Yolen, as well as picture books such as What Can A Crane Pick Up? which received a *starred* review from Publishers Weekly, What is Science? (an AAAS Subaru SB&F prize finalist), and Bella and Bean (an SCBWI Golden Kite Honor), among many others. She gives poetry workshops, visits classrooms across the country, and speaks at conferences, retreats, libraries and schools to teachers, aspiring writers and students of all ages. Her work has been featured on Reading Rainbow and the PBS children’s show Between the Lions.

Savor this gorgeous, evocative interpretation of her poem here, then join the rest of the Poetry Friday crew over at Bookseedstudio.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Celebrating Kevin Henkes

I was so fortunate to chair the 2020 Children's Literature Legacy Award committee for ALSC and am so excited to see our recipient, Kevin Henkes, receive his award on Sunday. And at the exact same time, I am so disappointed that we can't gather in Chicago for the ALA convention and sit with that beautiful crowd of booklovers to hand Kevin his award in person and savor his acceptance speech. What a crazy time we find ourselves in! 

The convention is virtual this year and EVERYONE can join in hearing Kevin's speech for the first time on Sunday night (7pm Central) at the link here. (It will also be available for viewing there afterwards, as will all the acceptance speeches.) He will follow the Caldecott and Newbery Award acceptance speeches and I am so excited to hear them all! Big thanks to my lovely Legacy committee: Rob Bittner, Jessica Hilbun Schwartz, Louise Lareau, and Lucia Acosta. 

Meanwhile, I went a little crazy and created this "found" poem out of some of the book titles written and/or illustrated by Kevin Henkes just for fun. Enjoy!

Now head on over to Karen's Got a Blog for more Poetry Friday fun!

Friday, June 19, 2020

A poem for Juneteenth

I have been a longtime fan of poet Carole Boston Weatherford and her many works of poetry-- many historical, biographical, and fact-based, most in picture book form. I have learned so much from each of her books and always look forward to what she does next. This year? She has FOUR books out this year! That includes: 

  • Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2020. Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom. Ill. by Michele Wood. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. 
  • Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2020. By and By, Charles Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music. Ill. by Bryan Collier. New York: Atheneum. 
  • Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2020. Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. 
  • Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2020. RESPECT: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Ill. by Frank Morrison. New York: Atheneum.

But I also want to take a moment to highlight one of her poems in honor of today's celebration of Juneteenth, the day that enlsaved people in Texas (my home state) learned of their freedom, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This poem is from an older book, Remember the Bridge (Philomel Books, 2002) and captures a bit of history and a lot of conviction and never-ending hope! 

Carole has also published a book ABOUT Juneteenth, as well as many other books that uplift the Black experience and share Black history. She's won many awards for her work including a Sibert Honor, Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Award, Coretta Scott Kind Awards and Honors, multiple NAACP Image Awards and SCBWI Golden Kite Honors, Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and Jane Addams Children’s Literature Honors, among many others. Here is just a sampling of her work.

For Black Music Month, Carole has been posting musical connections to her many music-themed poem picture books, too! Don't miss it! Now head on over to The Miss Rumphius Effect where Trish is hosting our Poetry Friday celebration. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Nikki Grimes x 2

Irene Latham is corralling our Poetry Friday posts all celebrating the work of Nikki Grimes! Be sure to check out all the posts at Irene's blog, Live Your Poem. I'm a big fan of Nikki's (and Irene's, for that matter) from way back! I co-chaired the NCTE Poetry Award committee (with the late Peggy Oxley) that selected Nikki for the award in 2006 and was there when she received her Legacy Award from ALSC. I created the teacher guide for her book, Garvey's Choice, hosted her for a poetry festival here in Texas and the Poetry Round Up at TLA, and just featured her new book, Southwest Sunrise, on my blog a few weeks ago. And her work just continues to be terrific and diverse: picture books, novels in verse, anthologies, and an incredible memoir. Plus, the awards keep piling up too! 

Nikki has been kind enough to collaborate with Janet (Wong) and me on several of our poetry anthologies, so I thought I might feature two of her poems from those books here. 

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Black Poetry Matters

As we look for ways to raise the voices of our Black sisters and brothers, I turn to poetry, of course. And there is a rich, long history of poetry by African American poets (see the list below), with new poets emerging all the time. In 2020 alone, I know of 10 books of poetry by Black poets-- offering powerful history and painful struggle, as well as celebrating identity, family, and everyday joy. And this is just a beginning!


  1. Brantley-Newton, Vanessa. 2020. Just Like Me. New York: Knopf.
  2. Browne, Mahogany L. 2020. Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
  3. Elliott, Zetta. 2020. A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart. Ill. by Noa Denmon. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  4. Elliott, Zetta. 2020. Say Her Name. Ill. by Love is Wise. New York: Jump at the Sun.
  5. Grimes, Nikki. 2020. Southwest Sunrise. Ill. by Wendell Minor. New York: Bloomsbury
  6. James, Nancy Johnson. 2020. Brown. Ill. by Constance Moore. Cameron Kids.
  7. Johnson, Angela. 2020. A Girl Like Me. Ill. by Nina Crews. Brookfield, CT: Lerner/Millbrook.
  8. Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2020. Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom. Ill. by Michele Wood. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
  9. Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2020. By and By, Charles Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music. Ill. by Bryan Collier. New York: Atheneum.
  10. Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2020. RESPECT: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Ill. by Frank Morrison. New York: Atheneum.

Now, let's see what others are thinking about this Poetry Friday hosted by Margaret Simon at her blog, Reflections on the Teche. See you there!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

NCTE’s 2020 Notable Poetry List

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) strives to recognize and foster excellence in children’s poetry by encouraging its publication and by exploring ways to acquaint teachers and children with poetry through such means as publications, programs, and displays. A committee gives the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children to honor a poet for his or her aggregate work every two years and also publishes a list of "notable" poetry books each year chosen "for their use of language and poetic devices and their appropriateness for children ages three to 13." Their most recent list includes 28 outstanding books of poetry and 11 novels in verse, including a biography in lyrical verse, hybrid works of poetry and informational text, and innovative collections. In some cases, these are newly published poems, while other titles include works of classic or contemporary children’s poets that are newly illustrated or edited into a fresh collection. The 2020 NCTE Poetry Committee members included: Trish Bandré, Donna Friend, Ted Kesler, Judy Rowe Michaels, Heidi Mordhorst, Lisa Pinkerton, and Yoo Kyung Sung.

NCTE’s 2020 Notable Poetry List

Complete annotations can be found in this article in School Library Journal. Meanwhile, here's the list in brief. 

Notable Poetry
AHMADI, Ahmadreza. When I Colored in the World. illus. by Ehsan Abollahi. tr. by Azita Rassi from Arabic. Tiny Owl. ISBN 9781910328491.

ALEXANDER, Kwame. How To Read a Book. illus. by Melissa Sweet. Harper Collins/Harper. ISBN 9780062307811.

ALEXANDER, Kwame. The Undefeated. illus. by Kadir Nelson. HMH/Versify. ISBN 9781328780966.

BRAMER, Shannon. Climbing Shadows: Poems for Children. illus. by Cindy Derby. Groundwood. ISBN 9781773060958.

BULION, Leslie. Superlative Birds. illus. by Robert Meganck. Peachtree. ISBN 9781561459513.

COOPER, Susan. The Shortest Day. illus. by Carson Ellis. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763686987.

FOGLIANO, Julie. If I Was the Sunshine. illus. by Loren Long. S. & S./Atheneum. ISBN 9781481472432.

FROST, Helen. Hello, I’m Here! illus. by Rick Lieder. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763698584.

HEARD, Georgia. Boom! Bellow! Bleat! Animal Poems for Two or More Voices. illus. by Aaron DeWitt. Boyds Mills/Wordsong. ISBN 9781620915202.

HEGEDUS, Bethany. Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou. illus. by Tonya Engel. Lee & Low. ISBN 9781620145876.

HOBERMAN, Mary Ann. The Sun Shines Everywhere. illus. by Luciano Lozano. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316523844.

JANECZKO, Paul B., ed. The Proper Way To Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems. illus. by Richard Jones. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763681685.

MAILLARD, Kevin Noble. Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story. illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal. Roaring Brook. ISBN 9781626727465.

OWENS, Mary Beth. Hawksbill Promise: A Sea Turtle’s Journey.illus. by author. Tilbury House. ISBN 9780884484301.

My First Book of Haiku Poems: A Picture, a Poem and a Dream. tr. by Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen. illus. by Tracy Gallup. Tuttle. ISBN 9784805315156.

RANSOME, James E. The Bell Rangillus. by author. S. & S./Atheneum. ISBN 9781442421134.

RASCHKA, Chris. Mother Goose of Pudding Lane: A Small Tall Tale. illus. by Vladimir Radunsky. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763675233.

ROSSETTI, Christina. Blooming Beneath the Sun. illus. by Ashley Bryan. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Bks. ISBN 9781534440920.

SALAS, Laura Purdie. In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House. illus. by Angela Matteson. Boyds Mills/Wordsong. ISBN 9781620916308.

SALAS, Laura Purdie. Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons. illus. by Mercè López. Lerner/Millbrook. ISBN 9781512498097.

SALAS, Laura Purdie. Snowman-Cold=Puddle: Spring Equations.illus. by Micha Archer. Charlesbridge. ISBN 9781580897983.

SCHAUB, Michelle. Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections.illus. by Carmen Saldaña. Charlesbridge. ISBN 9781580898751.

SINGER, Marilyn. I’m the Big One Now: Poems About Growing Up. illus. by Jana Christy. Boyds Mills/Wordsong. ISBN 9781629791692.

STEINGLASS, Elizabeth. Soccerverse: Poems About Soccer. illus. by Edson Ike. Boyds Mills/Wordsong. ISBN 9781629792491.

TURK, Evan. You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks. illus. by author. S. & S./Atheneum. ISBN 9781534432826.

VECCHIONE, Patrice & Alyssa Raymond, eds. Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience. Seven Stories. ISBN 9781609809072.

WOLF, Allan. The Day the Universe Exploded My Head. illus. by Anna Raff. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763680251.

WONG, Janet. A Suitcase of Seaweed & More. Pomelo. ISBN 9781937057336.

Notable Verse Novels
ARGUETA, Jorge. Caravan to the North: Misael’s Long Walk. illus. by Manuel Monroy. Groundwood. ISBN 9781773063294.

BARON, Chris. All of Me. Feiwel & Friends. ISBN 9781250305992.

ELLIOTT, David. Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc. HMH. ISBN 9781328987594.

HEMPHILL, Stephanie. The Language of Fire: Joan of Arc Reimagined. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. ISBN 9780062490117.

HOLT, K.A. Redwood and Ponytail. Chronicle. ISBN 9781452172880.

LUCIDO, Aimee. Emmy in the Key of Code. HMH/Versify. ISBN 9780358040828.

MOSKOWITZ-SWEET, Gloria & Hope Anita Smith. It Rained Warm Bread: Moishe Moskowitz’s Story of Hope. illus. by Lea Lyon. Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. ISBN 9781250165725.

NAGAI, Mariko. Under the Broken Sky. Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. ISBN 9781250159212.

SALAZAR, Aida. The Moon Within. illus. by Joe Cepeda. Arthur A. Levine Bks. ISBN 9781338283372.

WARGA, Jasmine. Other Words for Home. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. ISBN 9780062747808.

WILSON, Kip. White Rose. HMH/Versify. ISBN 9781328594433.

Now head on over to A Year of Reading where the Grande Dame of Poetry Friday, Mary Lee is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Remembering Peggy Oxley

I learned that my colleague Peggy Oxley passed away recently and I wanted to take a moment to honor her memory. 

Peggy was a long-time classroom teacher and a lover of literature and poetry for young people. She and I served as co-chairs of the NCTE Poetry Award committee that chose Nikki Grimes as the recipient back in 2006. Peggy was such a wonderful collaborator--the kindest, gentlest soul. She taught second grade at St. Paul Catholic School in Westerville, Ohio for her entire 43-year teaching career, not retiring until age 86. Isn't that incredible? And she is everyone's dream of the perfect second grade teacher-- endlessly patient and positive. She brought authors, illustrators, and poets into her classroom long before that was a cool trend and helped parents and colleagues see the value in providing children with this special experience. 
Peggy also invested in ongoing professional development, founding The Literacy Connection (and serving as its longtime President), a well-regarded teacher support group and was an active presenter at conferences and author of scholarly publications like Reading and Writing, Where It All Begins: Helping your Children at Home (1991), receiving many awards throughout her career.  

Franki Sibberson, literacy leader and a fellow Ohioan like Peggy, wrote a lovely tribute at the blog she maintains with Mary Lee Hahn, A Year of Reading.

Janet Wong served on the NCTE Poetry Award committee along with Peggy and me and was kind enough to write a new poem honoring our friend, Peggy. I think it perfectly captures Peggy's love for nature, children, and poetry. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Rita Dove, Barack Obama & Poetry Love

I recently ran across this video of a poetry reading with Rita Dove that President Obama held in the White House back in 2011. I had never seen it before and I thought it was so lovely-- especially hearing Barack Obama talk about what poetry meant to him and hearing Rita Dove (one of my favorites) reading two of her poems aloud. I particularly loved this comment from the former President:

Now head on over to Jama's Alphabet Soup for a wonderful Poetry Friday gathering! She throws an awesome party! 

Friday, May 08, 2020

The Greatest Hits of Lee Bennett Hopkins

One of the silver linings of the terrible coronavirus is the greater access we are getting to digital resources that are usually only available to subscribers. For example, BOOKLIST and BOOK LINKS are providing access to all current issues for anyone who wants it. And as it happens, I have an article in the April issue of BOOK LINKS. It features the poetry legacy of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins-- with tributes from 23 poets who each chose a favorite from his amazing repertoire of poetry anthologies. That includes: Susan Blackaby, Leslie Bulion, Isabel Campoy, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Margarita Engle, Charles Ghigna, Joan Bransfield Graham, Nikki Grimes, David L. Harrison, Georgia Heard, Irene Latham, Renée M. LaTulippe, Jone MacCulloch, Elaine Magliaro, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Naomi Shihab Nye, Heidi Bee Roemer, Laura Purdie Salas, Marilyn Singer, Ludwig VanDerwater, Charles Waters, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Janet Wong. And these are SOME of the poets who collaborated with Lee during his many years of creating poetry anthologies and only SOME of the 100+ anthologies he created.

There's a downloadable pdf of the whole article here.

Now head on over to Today's Little Ditty where the lovely Michelle is hosting our Poetry Friday get-together.

Friday, May 01, 2020

"Poetry Friday" by Janet Wong

National Poetry Month may be over, but every day is a good day for sharing poetry-- especially Poetry Friday! And when you have a poem ABOUT poetry Friday, it's a MUST. Here's one more mini movie created by one of my lovely graduate students Carly B. featuring the poem "Poetry Friday" by Janet Wong from Great Morning: Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud (Pomelo Books, 2018). Enjoy!