Thursday, October 15, 2020

HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING

It’s here! HOP TO IT: Poems to Get You Moving has arrived! 
Janet (Wong) and I are so excited to see this poetry anthology full of 100 poems to get you moving, thinking, and standing up ready for readers! A big thank you to the 90 poets who shared their poems with us!
For the first time, we held an open call for poems posted here back on February 13 and received hundreds of submissions—we wish we could have accepted them all. One of the special treats of this project was getting to know some brand-new poets and we think you’ll enjoy their poems as much as we do!

 We asked the poets to hop along with us and we love how ready they were! 





Initially, we were focused exclusively on helping young readers and listeners get up off their chairs and moving to the words of an inviting poem because multiple research studies have found we are all becoming way too sedentary. Some have even said that “sitting is the new smoking.” EEK!  And MOVING is STILL a big part of this book! But then as we continued to work on the book, our entire way of life shifted a bit and we were all dealing with a global pandemic, quarantining, and schooling from home, and at the same time, experiencing a national awakening to the social justice issues that we are still grappling with as a nation. Well, we HAD to incorporate those issues into this book, too. So, you’ll find fun, participatory hopping, jumping, tapping, and waving poems in HOP TO IT, but you’ll also find poems about wearing masks, Zooming with teachers, friends and family, AND poems about standing up for what you believe in. Here are just a few examples. 


Look for poems to move to like this (by Ann Ingalls):



Look for poems about living through a pandemic like this (by Janet Wong):



Poems that inspire us to speak out and stand up like this (by Zetta Elliott):



As usual, we also love making connections between poems and teaching and learning. (It’s kinda our THING!) So, every poem is accompanied by five connected “bubbles” with 

(1) a tip on performing the poem with young people, 

(2) a scientific or social studies fact related to the poem,

(3) a tiny "spot" illustration, 

(4) a language arts/poetry skills connection, and 

(5) a recommended related picture book for a cross-genre extension. 



We also have extensive backmatter with ready-to-go activities for kids like a poem hunt, poetry tic tac toe, a poetry month calendar activity, and tips for acting out poems, sharing poetry at home, poetry websites to know, a glossary of poetic forms, and booklists of other movement poetry books and poetry books about social justice.


We’ve been gathering our poets for Zoom poetry parties and they’ve been kind enough to let us record and share their poem readings. You are in for a major treat as we roll those out in the coming weeks. Here is just one fun sampling (with big thanks to poet Zetta Elliott for reading "Everyday Use" also presented in the poem graphic above):



Other bloggers and poets will be posting about HOP TO IT in the coming weeks offering their perspectives—for which we truly thank them—and we hope you’ll check out their posts and their poems!  Here’s the current schedule with more serendipitous blog posts hopping up all the time! 



If you’re looking for a book full of poems that speak to this moment we’re living through AND make teaching and learning connections AND help us take a “brain break” and stretch and breathe, we hope you’ll check out HOP TO IT! You can find it here at QEPBooks and at Amazon, of course. It should be available from Ingram soon, too. 

Now, don’t forget to check out the rest of the Poetry Friday goodness hosted by Janice at Salt City Verse. 


Thursday, October 01, 2020

THIS POEM IS A NEST by Irene Latham


I’m so happy to feature Irene Latham today in celebration of her new book, This Poem is a Nest, illustrated by Joanna Wright and published by Boyds Mills & Kane. It’s a wonder: a collection of 161 “found” or “blackout” poems she has created all drawn from one central poem. Amazing! 

Irene was kind enough to create a short video with a bit of background about this book and featuring three (of the eight) 3-word poems in the book: "Mad," "The Story of the Egg in Three Parts," and "Last Poem." Enjoy! 


Irene Latham is the author of novels, picture books, and poetry books and winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award. Her poetry books include: 

Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole.
Ill. by Anna Wadham (Millbrook/Lerner, 2014) 
Fresh Delicious: Poems from the Farmer’s Market. Ill. by Mique Moriuchi (Highlights/Wordsong, 2016) 
When the Sun Shines on Antarctica: And Other Poems About the Frozen Continent. Ill. by Anna Wadham (Millbrook Press, 2016) 
Nine: A Book of Nonet Poems. Ill. by Amy Huntington (Charlesbridge, 2020) 

And her collaborations with Charles Waters: 
Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship (Millbrook Press, 2017)
Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z (Carolrhoda Books, 2020) 

This Poem is a Nest 
is rooted in one original “nest” poem which features four parts: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter—each written in three stanzas of three-lines (or tercets). It begins (and ends) with:

“This poem has twigs in it, and little bits of feather-fluff.”

It envisions a nest in a tree that houses young robins, weathers the seasons, and is then adopted by a mouse for its own young, coming full circle. Then, Latham harvests more poems from this poem and gathers them along the themes of 
  • Time 
  • Color my world 
  • Animals among us 
  • Only human 
  • For the love of words 
  • Places seen and unseen 
  • (Out) of time 
She also provides “Tips from a Nest-Builder” in the back for the budding poet. It’s a beautiful model of what is possible with poetry and how one poem can lead to another and another and another. One of my favorite pages features “alphabet poems” complete with a note from the writer: 


Now head on over to The Opposite of Indifference where Tabatha Yeatts is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering. 


Thursday, September 24, 2020

A WORLD FULL OF POEMS: Nonsense

I'm counting down till A World Full of Poems: Inspiring Poetry for Children is released by DK Books on October 6. I hope you'll give it a look! With 152 poems by 110 poets, there is a huge variety of voices and topics for young readers (ages 0-12). 

Once again, I had fun creating a simple, silly video to feature one poem from A World Full of Poems-- this one is by Kenn Nesbitt, and it's entitled "Speak When This Way Talk Do I." 
See if you can read it without stumbling! It's hilarious!
 

Now head on over to Deo Writer where Jone is gathering our Poetry Friday goodness-- and featuring another poetry anthology that I have had the pleasure to pursue-- this time with Janet Wong. See you there!




Friday, September 11, 2020

A WORLD FULL OF POEMS: Sneak Peek

I hope you’ll indulge me in a bit more promotion of my forthcoming poetry anthology, A World Full of Poems, to be published by DK Books on October 6, 2020. It was such a privilege to have this project come my way at the beginning of the year and once the pandemic hit in March, it became such a therapeutic outlet. I read and read and read and pored over piles and piles of poetry books—and probably recommended five times as many poems as they were finally able to include in this anthology. Then I learned a TON working through the permission process—wishing we could afford to include a poem by Langston Hughes or Pablo Neruda, for example, but not able to afford them within the DK budget. But I learned HOW to get permission! And I lobbied hard for diverse voices and was fairly successful, although I would have loved to include even more. And it was fascinating to work with people in the London office and alert them to some of our new U.S. poets and also be educated about some of their most distinguished voices in the U.K.

In the end, A World Full of Poems features the work of 110 poets, including voices from the U.S., the U.K., and beyond, as well as a handful of classic poets from the past—all interpreted in clever ways by London illustrator Sonny Ross. Not only are there more than 80 wonderful poets from the US in this collection, but another 30+ poets from Canada, England, Ireland, Wales, Australia and the Netherlands are also represented, including: James Aitchison, Ros Asquith, Celia Berrell, Clare Bevan, Lewis Carroll, James Carter, Paul Cookson, Nicole Davies, Carol Ann Duffy, John Foster, Chrissie Gittins, Avis Harley, Steven Herrick, Tony Langham, JonArno Lawson, Tony Mitton, Cheryl Moskowitz, Sally Murphy, Julie O’Callaghan, Andrew Fusek Peters, J. R. Poulter, Christina Rossetti, Coral Rumble, Robert Louis Stevenson, Toon Tellegen, William Makepeace Thackeray, Philip Waddell, Celia Warren, Colin West, Brenda Williams, and Kate Williams.


The poems are gathered together in eight major sections:

  1. Family and Friends
  2. Feelings
  3. Animals and Nature
  4. Cities, Towns, and Travel
  5. Fun and Games
  6. Science and Art
  7. Body and Health
  8. A World of Learning
And the book closes with a variety of fun poetry activities for children and families that I created (and have used many, many times). 

Here is a sneak peek inside the book with sample poems for each section from these lovely poets: Virginia Euwer Wolff, Margarita Engle, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, Christina Rossetti, Allan DeFina, Rachel Field, Peter Cole, James Carter, Steven Herrick, Irene Latham, Colin West, Tony Mitton, and JonArno Lawson. Thanks, y'all!

I’ll be sharing a few more wonderful sample poems as we countdown to the release date: October 6. 


Hope you’ll share A World Full of Poems with the children you care about! 



And be sure to join the gathering of Poetry Friday posts over at Kiesha's place, Whispers from the Ridge.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Countdown to A WORLD FULL OF POEMS

I'm excited to announce that I have a new book coming out on October 6, 2020. It's a poetry anthology to be published by DK books. A World Full of Poems. I am so honored to be part of this project-- seeking out poems, gathering permissions, and creating related activities for young readers. Although I didn't have final say on all the poems, I still think we gathered a wonderful, diverse family of more than 100 poets from the US and the UK on a variety of relevant topics and themes. More info to come!



Thursday, September 03, 2020

Guest Post: Carol Coven Grannick's REENI’S TURN

This week, I'm welcoming Carol Coven Grannick who is celebrating the release of her new novel in verse, Reeni's Turn. Here she shares her rationale for telling this story through verse and even shares her process and a sample poem. ENJOY!

Carol Coven Grannick’s debut novel in verse, REENI’S TURN, is available through Indiebound and other links at her website, https://carolcovengrannick.com. Reservations here for the online launch on 9/13 and on the home page! Carol’s short fiction and poetry have appeared and are forthcoming in Cricket, Ladybug, Babybug, Highlights, and Hello. She is a columnist for the SCBWI-IL Prairie Wind, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s award-winning Cynsations,and the GROG Blog, as well as a frequent guest blogger. Her poetry for adults has appeared in numerous online and print journals. Carol has received a Ragdale Foundation Writer’s Residency and an Illinois Arts Council Grant for past work on REENI’S TURN.



WHY DID YOU WRITE THIS IN VERSE?
by Carol Coven Grannick

Rhythms score my life, and always have. Music makes me dance or sing (my son would say that the smallest associations can get me singing a Broadway show tune). Reciting poetry moves my heart, spirit, facial expressions, and more. Long ago the percussive sound and rhythm of horses’ hooves trotting or cantering would propel me into a matching song. The swaying of a willow near water, slow opening dance of a lily, shapes of tree limbs, and resilient prairie grass are all poetry and music to me.

My lifelong love of poetry accompanied me from childhood, scribbling meaningful rhymes and reading Edna St. Vincent Millay and Robert Frost. I still have the old, marked up poetry anthology used for Poetry Reading competitions Illinois State Speech Contests.




In graduate school my thesis explored parallels of becoming a poet and becoming a social worker. Much of my writing, including my debut novel, REENI’S TURN, merges love of poetry and lyrical rhythms with my passion for the issue it addresses. Reeni’s story follows a tween dancer who struggles with lifelong fears and anxiety, body acceptance, and finding her own strong voice. The story’s context unfolds the diet culture’s negative impact on younger children.

It was only natural that I would write REENI’S TURN in verse.

But I didn’t. Not at first, anyway.

When the third draft sang and danced in my brain, I did the best I could to transfer it to the page. It was far from finished, and a well-published colleague told me the uncommon topic could make it difficult to publish. Occasionally, during years of revising, submitting, and putting away the manuscript for awhile, an editor or agent would ask me if I’d like to revise it in prose because “verse novels are a hard sell”. A turning point in my own journey occurred during a critique, when favorite author and mentor asked why I hadn’t written REENI’S TURN in verse.

The manuscript received some awards, went through multiple requested revisions that added content, but then hit some big bumps in the acquisitions road. My story came home to rest for again, but I couldn’t let it go. It was too important to me.

I revised REENI’S TURN repeatedly, carefully, until it became the story I wanted—an easy to read, emotionally intense, simply-plotted story of a complex experience. 



After the fact, it is easy to explain why REENI’S TURN is better told, read, and received in verse. It is intensely emotional. Reeni’s fears and strengths, despair and joy, beg for lyrical language and form. With snapshots of time, space, and emotion, and white space for respite, the reader can follow Reeni’s initially-misdirected journey from shy, fearful girl to self-accepting, self-reflective, and strong, clear-voiced Reeni.


The structure of the novel in verse alternates intensity and safety for the reader, and for the character, whose all-consuming experience of body discomfort and dieting, longings and fears, self-disparagement and self-acceptance, occur within a safety net of loving parents, a wise best friend, and the still, small voice that guides her.

These are all good reasons why the book works in verse.

But, really, I wrote REENI’S TURN in verse because the language danced in my brain, the music begged for words to be attached. Reeni hears music and must dance, and her story kept calling for verse.

And much like Reeni’s response to the discovery of the “still, small voice”, I had to listen.

The Still, Small Voice 

            Last fall on Yom Kippur,

            first time in adult services,

            I held the heavy prayer book instead of stapled pages,

 

            let my mind wander

            the way it does when I’m dancing, 

            swaying from a long time standing,

 

            swaying to familiar melodies of prayers. 

            Then these words:

            

            The great shofar is sounded,

            a still, small voice is heard.

 

            My body stilled,

            the words shivered into my heart

            and through my body—brain, heart, arms and legs,

 

            the way music does, 

            deep inside where it sings out,

            Dance!

 

            But instead of that,

            these words whispered to me,

 

            Listen!

 

            ©Carol Coven Grannick 2020


Now join the rest of the Poetry Friday crew over at Carol's place, BeyondLiteracyLink.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

SPI-KU by Leslie Bulion: Cover Reveal


Leslie Bulion is a writer with a definite fascination with science—and people. She has authored articles for print and internet magazines, and edited books for teachers. Her writing for young readers includes both novels for the middle grades like Fatuma’s New Cloth, Uncharted Waters, The Trouble with Rules, and The Universe of Fair. And she has several amazing science-themed collections of poetry including Hey There, Stinkbug, At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocean Critter Poems, Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse, Leaf Litter Critters, Superlative Birds, and her newest collection—Amphibian Acrobats


Leslie now has a new book of nature-themed poems coming out next spring and I'm excited to share a short interview with her and reveal the cover of that new book, Spi-ku: A Clutter of Short Verse on Eight Legs, illustrated by Robert Meganck, and to be published by Peachtree on March 1, 2021. And here's the fun new cover!


Here's the book blurb:

Meet spiders that spit silk, roll like wheels, scuba dive, hide under trap doors, strum tunes, and so much more. Watch as they find mates, find prey…or find mates that become prey!

Award-winning poet Leslie Bulion and illustrator Robert Meganck team up again for this clutter (a collective noun for spiders) of Haiku and other short poems and humorously accurate illustrations that celebrate the amazing attributes of Araneae.

The book is also packed with helpful sidebars, call-outs, and backmatter, including a glossary of science terms, notes about the poetic forms, a list of common and scientific names, a spider-hunting adventure how-to, resources for further study, and a relative-size chart. A feast for science and animal fans and a bonanza for teachers and students interested in cross-curricular studies!

Leslie was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book too:

Me: Spiders! Where did the interest in spiders come from? How did you decide on this topic for your next book? How did you decide which spiders to highlight? And what a fun and clever book title! 


Leslie: A few years ago while having a SUPERLATIVE BIRD hands-on adventure at Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, Dr. Linda Rayor invited me to visit her arachnology laboratory. Who’d say no to that?? There I met all kinds of fascinating arachnids including amblypygids (whip spiders who aren’t true spiders), tarantulas, and social Australian huntsman spiders that live in family groups—which I learned was not typical spider behavior. I left that lab with two gifts: Dr. Rayor’s infectious arachnid enthusiasm and my first cool spider science story. Once I began reading about the myriad ways our nearly fifty thousand different species perform activities of spider daily living—weaving webs, hunting, mating, caring for young…or not, etc.—I knew I’d want to highlight more than one example for each activity. So, lots of short poems, right? That’s when the title “Spi-ku”  popped into my rhyme brain!

Me: How did you decide on which short poem form to use for describing which spider? 


Leslie: At first I thought I’d write an entire book of haiku, but my subjects have their own ideas! Some have the stillness of a haiku. Some insist on rhyme. Some start singing. All develop and grow from words and ideas I’ve collected in my researchnotes. It wouldn’t be the first time I had to modify an organizing idea for a science poetry collection!


Me: The illustrations for this book are marvelous and full of detail and energy. Did you consult with the artist (Robert Meganck) to ensure scientific accuracy? Did you provide scientific drawings orsources? What images did you use as you were composing your poems? 


Leslie: Robert is so amazing, isn’t he? Spi-ku is our fourth book together, and we work as true collaborators. We share information and ideas back and forth. We’re both always editing, tweaking, and in Robert’s case, always adding to the fun. And wow, we get into such weeds when making these books. For Spi-ku, the “weeds” were spider eyes: how to choose which of the six or eight eyes in each species’ arrangement would be the best candidates for signature Meganck googlies. Serious science!

Me: Which spider in this book is now your favorite and why? Or if you were one of these spiders, which one would you be and why?  


Leslie: "Favorites" questions are always impossible for me, Sylvia. I do love the jumpers, though…so at least I’ve narrowed it down to six thousand species or so. If I were one of the spiders in Spi-ku? Let me say right off that while I do love smoothies, I’m not sure I’d ever want to make mine by stabbing, envenomating, and liquidating my living animal foodstuffs! If I can substitute photographic prey capture, I am a SCUBA diver, so the diving bell spider life just might be the spidey life for me! 


And just for fun: Here's Leslie spider hunting!

Thank you, Leslie and Peachtree, for this "sneak peek" into this new book. I'm looking at spiders with even more fascination and respect, thanks to you! 


Now, head on over to Pleasures on the Page where Ramona is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering!





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.