Friday, October 26, 2007

A Chocolate Poem for Halloween

Since National Chocolate Day is coming up this weekend (October 28) and Halloween is right around the corner, I thought it might be fun to feature some yummy chocolate poems. I’m honored to share an original poem by one of my favorites, J. Patrick Lewis:

Chocolate-Covered Ants

by J. Patrick Lewis
Used with permission

You start with that ant mandible—
Completely understandable—

A chocolate jaw has never tasted sweeter.

Then bite of bit of abdomen

Before you’ve finally grabbed a min-

i-leg, an itty-bitty centimeter.

But ants despise the holiday

That is their grand finale day

When you become The Chocolate Anteater.

For more chocolate poems, look for:
Arnold Adoff’s Chocolate Dreams (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1988) and Eats (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1979) and Lee Bennett Hopkins’s April Bubbles Chocolate (Simon & Schuster, 1994)

For more food poems:
Morrison, Lillian, comp. 1997. I Scream, You Scream: A Feast of Food Rhymes. Little Rock, AK: August House.
Rosen, Michael, J., ed. 1996. Food Fight: Poets Join the Fight Against Hunger with Poems about Their Favorite Foods. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
Stevenson, James. 1998. Popcorn: Poems. New York: Greenwillow.
Thomas, Joyce Carol. 1995. Gingerbread Days. New York: HarperCollins.
Westcott, Nadine Bernard, comp. 1994. Never Take a Pig to Lunch and Other Poems about the Fun of Eating. New York: Orchard.

And for some fun fall and Halloween poetry:
Alarcón, Francisco X. 1999. Angels Ride Bikes and Other Fall Poems. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.
Florian, Douglas. 2003. Autumnblings: Poems & Paintings. New York: Greenwillow.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2006. Halloween Howls; Holiday Poetry. (An I Can Read Book.) New York: HarperCollins.
Livingston, Myra Cohn, comp. 1989. Halloween Poems. New York: Holiday House.
McNaughton, Colin. 2002. Making Friends with Frankenstein. Cambridge: Candlewick.
Merriam, Eve. 1995. Halloween ABC. New York: Aladdin; republished as SPOOKY A B C, 2002. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Prelutsky, Jack. 1977. It’s Halloween. New York: Greenwillow.
Prelutsky, Jack. 1976. Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep. New York: Greenwillow. Reprinted, New York: Mulberry Books, 1993.
Moore, Lilian. 1973. Spooky Rhymes and Riddles. New York: Scholastic.
Rex, Adam. 2005. Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich. San Diego: Harcourt.
Rogasky, Barbara, comp. 2001. Leaf by Leaf. New York: Scholastic.
Schnur, Steven. 1997. Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic. New York: Clarion.
Singer, Marilyn. 2004. Creature Carnival. New York: Hyperion.
Singer, Marilyn. 2001. Monster Museum. New York: Hyperion.

Want more Poetry Friday gems? Check out the round up at Literary Safari this week.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Poetry about light, but not necessarily light poetry

On this day in 1879, Thomas Edison demonstrated the electric light successfully. Celebrate with this poem.

Poem to Be Read at 3 A.M.
by Donald Justice
(excerpted from American Sketches)

Excepting the diner
On the outskirts
The town of Ladora
At 3 A.M.
Was dark but
For my headlights
And up in
One second-story room
A single light
Where someone
Was sick or
Perhaps reading
As I drove past
At seventy
Not thinking
This poem
Is for whoever
Had the light on

For more poems about light, look for Joan Bransfield Graham’s collection, Flicker Flash (Houghton Mifflin, 2003). Joan Bransfield Graham’s poetry books are wonderful examples of shape or concrete poetry in which the words of the poems are laid out on the page to suggest the subject of the poem. In both Splish Splash (Houghton Mifflin, 2001) and Flicker Flash, the graphic illustrations combine with the verbal descriptions of water or light in their many, varied forms.

The rhyming shape poems of Flicker Flash explore the different ways that light appears in our world, from the flicker of birthday candles to a flash of lightning. The ingenious illustrations by Nancy Davis feature bold graphic images that play with shape and type in creative ways and add to the impact of each poem. These are perfect selections to incorporate into science or art lessons. Read them aloud by flashlight for added effect. In particular, read “Lamp” seated with the book near lamplight to demonstrate the poem’s “lamp-shine.”

A natural complement is Anna Grossnickle Hines poetry book, Winter Lights (Greenwillow, 2005) or Marilyn Singer’s Central Heating: Poems About Fire and Warmth (Knopf, 2005). Her poem “Lights Out” is ideal for sharing with Graham’s “Lamp” poem—both about reading by the light of a lamp or flashlight. One note: several of Graham’s poems in Flicker Flash deal with fire, including candles, matches, campfires and fireworks. Each is beautifully described and illustrated and can lead to a helpful discussion of both metaphors as well as fire safety! Be very clear about proper procedures for handling fire-related objects like matches and candles, of course.

Here are a few more poetry collections that feature poems about light in its various incarnations, either directly or indirectly.
Bruchac, Joseph. 1996. Between Earth and Sky: Legends of Native American Sacred Places. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
Bruchac, Joseph. 1992. Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back: A Native American Year of Moons. New York: Philomel Books.
Dotlich, Rebecca Kai. 1998. Lemonade Sun and Other Summer Poems. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
Esbensen, Barbara Juster. 1984. Cold Stars and Fireflies: Poems of the Four Seasons. New York: Crowell.
Fisher, Aileen. 1980. Out in the Dark and Daylight. New York: Harper & Row.
Graham, Joan Bransfield. 1999. Flicker Flash. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Hines, Anna Grossnickle. 2005. Winter Lights: A Season in Poems & Quilts. New York: Greenwillow.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett, comp. 1983. The Sky is Full of Song. New York: Harper & Row.
Levy, Constance. 1998. A Crack in the Clouds. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Lewis, Richard, comp. 1988. In the Night Still Dark. New York: Atheneum.
Livingston, Myra Cohn. 1984. Sky Songs. New York: Holiday House.
McCord, David. 1962. Take Sky: More Rhymes of the Never Was and Always Is. Boston: Little Brown.
Merriam, Eve. 1986. A Sky Full of Poems. New York: Dell.
Moore, Lilian, comp. 1992. Sunflakes: Poems for Children. New York: Clarion Books.
Moore, Lilian. 1980. Think of Shadows. New York: Atheneum.
Mora, Pat. 1998. This Big Sky. New York: Scholastic.
Ochoa, Annette Piña, Betsy Franco, and Traci L. Gourdine, Eds. 2003. Night is Gone, Day is Still Coming; Stories and Poems by American Indian Teens and Young Adults. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
O’Neill, Mary. 2003. The Sound of Day; The Sound of Night. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Rosenberg, Liz, ed. Light-gathering Poems. New York: Henry Holt.
Singer, Marilyn. 2005. Central Heating: Poems about Fire and Warmth. New York: Knopf.
Singer, Marilyn. 2000. Fireflies at Midnight. New York: Atheneum.

Kelly Fineman has more gems at the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

School Lunch Week Poetry

Coming up next week is NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH WEEK, October 15- 19. Who knew there was a whole week dedicated to the celebration of meals in the school cafeteria? And what a great opportunity to share one of my favorite poems, “School Cafeteria” by Douglas Florian (from Bing, Bang, Boing; Harcourt, 1994). I love it because the kids love it and every time I share it, it brings the house down. In addition, it’s a poem you can literally sing. Try it to the tune of “99 Bottles of Beer” and sing the last line with exaggerated slowness. It’s absolutely hilarious! Just one note of caution: I was told that some cafeteria staff did not find it as funny as I did. So beware. Remind them that most school-related poems exaggerate the negative qualities of school life, teachers, tests, lessons, etc. and it’s children’s outlet for dealing with their own stresses and anxieties. Then buy a cookie in the lunch line and smile!

School Cafeteria

by Douglas Florian

Nothing is drearier than my school cafeteria-
The food there is really the pits.
The bread is as hard as a brick in a yard;
The cake is all crumbled to bits.
The rotten old cheeses can give you diseases;
The pudding is rancid and runny.
And if you should dare to bite into a pear,
The taste is so bad it's not funny.
The chicken and rice are served cold as ice;
The soups could send groups to the nurse.
The carrots and peas make you whimper and wheeze;
The broccoli comes with a curse.
The pizza, I'm told, is covered with mold;
The salad is pallid and stale.
The dried-out roast beef fills your belly with grief;
They're taking the cook off to jail.
The citrus fruit cup will make you throw up;
The cookies are made out of clay.
The mere thought of lunch
Makes my weak stomach scrunch-
But it's still the best part of the day.

This week's Poetry Roundup is at Two Writing Teachers.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

World Teachers' Day

Today is World Teachers’ Day, an opportunity to recognize teachers and their contributions around the world. World Teachers’ Day was inaugurated in 1994 to commemorate the signing of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers on 5 October 1966. More than 100 countries currently celebrate World Teachers’ Day on the 5th of October.”
Celebrate the day with these poem gems.

Miss Lee and Mrs. Fuller
by Cheryl Miller Thurston

Miss Lee's rows are straight
and her cabinets are dusted.
Her blotter is fresh
and her shades are adjusted.
She always has staples
and Elmer's and tissues.
She never misplaces
a pass that she issues.

Mrs. Fuller does.

Miss Lee's books have covers;
she hasn't lost any.
Her milk money forms
come out right to the penny.
Her class in assemblies
is quite in control.
She never miscounts
or forgets to take roll.

Mrs. Fuller does.

Miss Lee has a gradebook that's neat,
not a smear.
Her lesson plan book
is complete for the year.
Her duties for playground
or lunch never tire her.
She never has principals
trying to fire her.

Mrs. Fuller does.

Miss Lee sees no value
in things that don't fit.
Her warmest remarks
run to "Quiet" and "Sit."
She never sparks passion,
excitement or dreams-
She never sees minds that are
bursting their seams.

Mrs. Fuller does.

from: Thurston, Cheryl Miller. 1987. Hide Your Ex-lax under the Wheaties: Poems about Schools, Teachers, Kids, and Education. Fort Collins, CO: Cottonwood Press.

And just to remind us about our colleagues in education working with children around the world, here’s a poem from the former Czechoslovakia that offers a classroom moment that is typical, no matter what the language of instruction may be!

by Miroslav Holub
Translated by Kaca Polackova

Children, when was
Napoleon Bonaparte
born? asks the teacher.

A thousand years ago,
say the children.
A hundred years ago,
say the children.
Nobody knows.

Children, what did
Napoleon Bonaparte
do? asks the teacher.

He won a war,
say the children.
He lost a war,
say the children.
Nobody knows.

Our butcher used to have a dog,
says Frankie,
and his name was Napoleon,
and the butcher used to beat him,
and the dog died
of hunger
a year ago.

And now all the children feel sorry
for Napoleon.

from; Nye, Naomi Shihab. Comp. This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World. Four Winds, 1992.

For more poems, check out the Poetry Friday Round Up hosted this week by WhimsyBooks.

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