Friday, October 31, 2008

Poetry Friday Round Up for Halloween

Welcome to Poetry Friday and my poetry-only blog, PoetryforChildren. I’m honored to host this week’s Poetry Friday Round Up. Please leave a link in the comments area. I'll be rounding up throughout the day. Meanwhile, enjoy this poem for the day by Jane Yolen—I shared this one many year’s ago with my son’s fourth grade class and it was their absolute favorite!

Magic House
by Jane Yolen

We should have known when we tasted the eaves,

Breaking them off like toffee

And cramming them into our mouths.

And the dear little windows, the color of coffee,

And chocolate doorknobs,

And windowpanes striped with mint.

We should have guessed at the chimney smoke,

White marshmallow fluff.

Taken the hint

From the marzipan bricks

And the fenceposts made of bone rubble.

But it was only when we saw the witch

That we knew we were in deep, deep trouble.

From: Livingston, Myra Cohn, comp. 1989.
Halloween Poems. New York: Holiday House. This poem can also be found in Ms. Yolen’s own collection, Best Witches (Putnam, 1989). This poem appears here with the permission of the author. It is not to be published elsewhere without her express permission.

Check out all these poetry-loving blogs today:

Gregory K at Gottabook: An original Halloween poem

Monica Edinger: Five Poems by Nina Lindsay

Julie Larios: An ode to "Pencil Box"

Cloudscome: A review of Hip Hop Speaks to Children at A Wrung Sponge

Stacey at TwoWritingTeachers: At the Pumpkin Patch

Lisa Chellman at UndertheCovers: An original “Hobgoblins” poem

Jim Danielson: “The Halloween Spell”

Sara at ReadWriteBelieve: An original JPL, “Whatever Happened to Oliver Tooke?”

AuthorAmok: Some “Poe-etry” for Halloween

Mary Lee at AYearofReading: “Questionnaire”

Diane at TheWriteSisters: “Witches Chant” to read aloud

Kurious Kitty: “Theme in Yellow” by Carl Sandburg

Tricia at MissRumphiusEffect: “Apple” from Spooky ABC

Laura Salas: A video reading of her original poem

Jama Rattigan: Halloween memories and “Theme in Yellow”

Terry at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub: An original poem, “Ouch”

Janet: A Preamble video

Fiddler at AHabitofReading: A Lucy Maud Montgomery poem

Carol at Carol’sCorner: A “Black and Gold” chant

Jennifer Knoblock at InkforLit: “Cemetery Walk” for All Saints Day

Jone aka MsMac at CheckitOut: An original poem by Jessica, 5th grader

Elaine Magliaro at WildRoseReader: An original political list poem
and at BlueRoseGirls: "Halloween" written by Mac Hammond

John Mutford at BookMineSet: An eerie poem by Ardath Mayhar

Linda at WriteTime: A ghost villanelle

Tracy Marchini: Song lyrics from the Decemberists

Stenhouse Publishers: A classic by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Adrienne at WhatAdrienneThinksAboutThat: "Isabel the Brave" by Ogden Nash

Yat-Yee Chong
: "I would like to describe" by Polish poet, Zbigniew Herbert

Alkelda the Gleeful at SaintsandSpinners: A Jack-o'-lantern song with video

Nadine C. Warner at KiddosandBooks: W.S. Gilbert's "The Yarn of the Nancy Bell"

Tiel Aisha Ansari at KnockingFromInside: “Teacup”

Shelburns at WriteforaReader: “Haunted House” by Jack Prelutsky

Little Willow at Bildungsroman: SPOOKY lyrics by Classics IV

Liz in Ink
: A Frances Chesterton poem on Day of the Dead

Becky at Becky’sBookReviews: A snippet of Macbeth by Shakespeare

Becky at Farm School: Valerie Worth's "Pumpkin"

Alyssa at TheShadyGlade: “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

Lorie Ann Grover at OnPoint: An original haiku called “Crows”

Eisha at 7-Imp: One of Edgar Allan Poe's worst poems (IHO)

Kevin Conder: A video of a zombie reading haiku poetry

Susan at ChickenSpaghetti: Citing the witches from Macbeth

Miss Erin: Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”

Sam Riddleburger: An oddball Halloween poem/riddle

Next week’s Poetry Friday round up will be at Check it Out.
In between, don’t forget to vote next Tuesday, Nov. 4.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Verse Novel: Planet Pregnancy

If you’re looking for a novel-in-verse spin on the “Juno” story, you might try Planet Pregnancy by Linda Oatman High, the story of an unexpected teen pregnancy from the point of view of the “unwed mother” in a voice and language that reflect teenspeak and adolescent angst.

Unfortunately, our protagonist, Sahara, lives in a conservative Texas town WITHOUT a sympathetic boyfriend—or many friends at all. She feels alone and scared, but ends up with her mom in her corner and a determination to raise her new daughter, Grace, on her own. Her wry sense of humor is reflected in the honest point of view, beginning with the section subheadings themselves:

Trimester One; Nice Girls Keep Their Legs Together
Trimester Two: The Great Date Rape

Trimester Three: Forever Is Ahead

The text runs quickly in short, narrow columns of poems that stream into each other. A sporadic rhyme scheme suggests a sense of rap or conversational rhythm. Small gray orbs punctuate the poems periodically to change the story direction or tone. Tiny patterns emerge, giving the poem structure (sometimes short, staccato lines) or impact. For example, for 10 pages (from pages 114-124), many of the “stanzas” begin with the words, “You need,” hammering the concerns and anxieties Sahara feels as she prepares for her baby’s arrival. Here’s the concluding bar of "Trimester Two":

You need
to work overtime

for the rest
of your life

to pay for

all the stuff,

but it

still won’t be

How will

I survive
and keep

me and the
kid alive?

High, Linda Oatman. 2008. Planet Pregnancy. Asheville, NC: Front Street, pp. 114-124.

For teen readers, this is a very accessible, fast-moving story that could lead to an interesting discussion comparing the book with the movie, Juno [teen pregnancy, body image, boyfriends, babies, expectations]. And dig that crazy cover which is so subtle I didn’t even get the pregnant silhouette at first. Follow up with Virginia Euwer Wolff’s Make Lemonade, Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, or even Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, for parallel stories, characters, and conflicts.

For more Poetry Friday nuggets, go to Big A little a.


Friday, October 17, 2008

CPL#1 Prelutsky 08

As Jack Prelutsky passes the mantle of Children’s Poet Laureate to Mary Ann Hoberman, it’s a good time to take a quick look at some of his new poetry out this year:

My Dog May Be a Genius (Greenwillow)
Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry; How to Write a Poem (Greenwillow)

Billed as a collection of “more than 100 silly poems,” My Dog May Be a Genius is Prelutsky’s fifth collection of humorous poems in the vein of The New Kid on the Block, his best-selling collection of 100+ poems illustrated by cartoonist James Stevenson with understated comic genius on every page. With poems that are nearly childhood standards now, like “Homework! Oh, Homework!” and “Bleezer’s Ice Cream,” the music of Prelutsky’s verse is irresistible and continues in My Dog May Be A Genius with “bookend” poems such as “Homework, Sweet Homework” and “Sandwich Stan.”

Since the publication of New Kid, equally popular companion books followed, including Something Big Has Been Here (1990), A Pizza the Size of the Sun (1996), and It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles (2000). My Dog May Be a Genius is a fitting successor to this comic legacy and includes concrete poems, puns, and even two poems about reading and the library (and you know how I love those!). [Indices to titles and to first lines are also included.] Here’s one sample poem that I think kids will love. What about putting it on a valentine next February?

If You Were a Rhinoceros
by Jack Prelutsky

If you were a rhinoceros,

I still would
be your friend.
And if you were a platypus,

our friendship would not end.

I’d like you as a walrus,
camel, cat, or kangaroo.
It doesn’t matter what you are—
I’ll still be friends with you.

From: Prelutsky, Jack. 2008. My Dog May Be a Genius. New York: Greenwillow, p. 42.

Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry; How to Write a Poem is Prelutsky’s offering to young, aspiring poets out there and to readers of all ages who might be interested in the back story behind many of his popular poems and his poetry writing process. This reader-friendly volume (targeting ages 7-10) consists of about 20 autobiographical anecdotes, 20 stand-alone writing tips, connected with poems referenced in both. Each is written in his inimitable, humorous style incorporating his personal experiences as well as responses from kids over the years. He also introduces poetry terms and concepts such as voice, scansion, meter, etc. with helpful sidebars. Most of the poems trade on his humorous rhyming verse, but he includes haiku and concrete poems, too.

The book ends with 10 “Poemstarts” that offer kids a formula for building poems based on patterns. A glossary and index are additional tools included. Teachers will appreciate Prelutsky’s emphasis on keeping a poetry notebook (or journal) and on the need for constant rewriting. Librarians will appreciate his sending young readers to the library for the thesaurus and other tools. One note for parents: Prelutsky offers a smorgasbord of food pranks (and others) that he and his brother pull on their parents. It’s hilarious, but… :-) This is an excellent addition to books on poetry writing for young kids, particularly since it helps us get in the head of a poet, so to speak.

Here’s one tiny excerpt from his first essay, “My Father’s Underwear” which ends,
“One of the things that I did to make my father so mad at me was to pin his underwear up on the wall. Before I did that, though, I decorated it. You see, my father wore really boring white underwear, and I wanted to make it pretty, so I painted it with finger paint. THEN I pinned it to the wall. My father didn’t like that at all.

Once I put
a bug in his coffee cup, and another time I put breadcrumbs in his bed. I did lots of other stuff too. I made a list of all the things like that I could remember, then picked some of them to put in a poem called “I Wonder Why Dad Is So Thoroughly Mad.”

From: Prelutsky, Jack. 2008. Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry; How to Write a Poem. New York: Greenwillow, p. 3-4.

And for a “greatest hits” collection of another hundred Prelutsky poems (+ 15 new ones) gleaned from many of his most popular collections, look for Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face and Other Poems (Greenwillow), illustrated by Brandon Dorman. The CD of selections read by Prelutsky himself is an excellent addition. Kids who’ve never had the opportunity to hear him perform his poetry will love these singing, yodeling, yelling renditions of his poems, many with accompanying music.

For more on Prelutsky, look for my birthday posting about him and his work on September 8, 2007, or my entry for him in POETRY PEOPLE; A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO CHILDREN'S POETS (Libraries Unlimited, 2007).

For more Poetry Friday treats, go to my fabulous former student's blog: Becky's Book Reviews.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Second Children’s Poet Laureate Honored

I’m pleased to announce that the Poetry Foundation has selected the second Children’s Poet Laureate: Mary Ann Hoberman. At a lovely dinner last night at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in Chicago, I was honored to be in attendance when she was presented with her medal and made a beautiful acceptance speech. Her husband and four grown children (from Paris, New York, and LA) were there to support her, even joining in on reading a poem at the end of her talk, “The Witch and the Broomstick” from one of her You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You collections.

With 45 poetry books published, a National Book Award, and the NCTE Poetry Award for her body of work, Hoberman spoke about her life as a young writer, a child in a family that moved a lot, enabling her to place her memories geographically—ideal training for a poet, in her opinion. She loved fairy tales in particular and still owns her three favorite collections and planned to be a reporter when she grew up—even dashing about in a snazzy red MG thinking of herself as “Mary Ann Hoberman, Girl Reporter.”

However, as life took another turn, she found herself married and writing and proofreading on the side. She made up songs and verses for her babies (her oldest daughter confirmed this memory!), and while pushing the kids in a stroller, a phrase popped into her head: “all my shoes come in twos,” the nugget of which would become her first book, to be illustrated by her husband, Norman. She read a poem from this collection for the audience and talked about her emergence as a poet, rather than reporter or fiction writer, claiming that “the house of children’s poetry has truly provided a house for me.”

With a nod to other smart, humorous poets that she believes have led us “from didacticism into sunlight” in c
hildren’s poetry (Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson, and A. A. Milne, “bookended by Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss”), she proceeded to delight us all with readings of several of her poems, including her “absolute favorite,” “Brother,” which she read a second time so fast it became a tongue twister, a favorite approach among child audiences, she grinned.

We joined in on “Snow,” and she observed that many of her poems are chant or song-like. She followed with “Yellow Butter,” hamming it up with a mouth-full-of-peanut-butter-style reading of the finale. On a somewhat more serious note, she acknowledged that some of h
er poems are inspired by the work of others, particularly by their rhythms. She cited Rudyard Kipling’s poems that accompany his Just-So Stories as one example and read “Anthropoids,” her tribute to Darwin.

I was blown away when she read a poem in my honor that I had mentioned was one of my all-time favorites by ANY poet, “Mayfly,” which she felt was also one of her personal best. Most of these poems came from The Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems (which was generously provided for each guest), but her final poem was an original composition for the occasion—a “Villanelle for Children’s Poets” with the repeated lines, “the craft of children’s poetry is its art” and “nonsense at its heart,” among other gems. It was perfect and moved us all.

Once again, thank you to the Poetry Foundation, and particularly Penny Barr, for making children's poetry such
a priority. The Children's Poet Laureate receives a check for $25,000 and a lovely medallion featuring the cartoon Pegasus characterized by James Thurber encircled with the words "Children's Poet Laureate" on one side and a line of an Emily Dickinson poem on the other side, "Permit a child to join." The Children's Poet Laureate will serve as a consultant to the Foundation for a two-year period and will give at least two public readings during his/her tenure. Mary Ann says she has “about 50 ideas” of possible poetry projects, so stay tuned for more updates.

[Note: I wrote about the FIRST Children’s Poet Laureate on Sept. 29, 2006: Prelutsky is Poet Laureate. Jack (and his wife Carolyn) were also in the audience tonight as he passed the poetry torch and became “Poet Laureate Emeritus”-- in his words.]

Poetry Foundation head John Barr called poetry the “last source of magic” in our world today and we definitely felt the magic of poetry this evening!

For more poetry in general, join Poetry Friday, in progress, at Anastasia Suen's Picture Book of the Day.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Time for 2008 Cybils award nominations

It’s time again to nominate your favorite books for the Cybils Award, the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards. This year, awards will be given in nine categories including poetry, of course. Anyone can nominate books in these categories (one nomination per person per category). Nominated titles must be published between January 1st and October 15th of this year, and the books must be in English (or bilingual, where one of the languages is English).

To nominate titles, visit the Cybils blog between October 1st and 15th. A separate post is available for each category - simply nominate by commenting on those individual posts. If you are not sure which category to choose for a particular book, a questions thread is also be available. The Cybils were founded by Anne Boles Levy and Kelly Herold in 2006. This year's winners will be announced on February 14th, 2009.

Kelly Fineman reminds us: When deciding if something belongs in the poetry category, ask yourself "Is this a collection of poems?"
* A picture book that is written in rhyme belongs over in the picture book section, not here.
* Poetry collections for older kids and teens belong here as well.
* A novel written in free verse belongs with all the other novels for the appropriate age range.

I have been honored to participate in this process each year in the poetry category. Interestingly, poet Joyce Sidman has won the poetry award BOTH years for:
*Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)
*This Is Just To Say; Poems Of Apology And Forgiveness (Hougton Mifflin, 2007)
Who will be next?

If you’re looking for poetry to nominate this year, I’ve been trying hard to compile a comprehensive list of this year’s poetry for young people (and review each title here—although I’m behind!) and will share my list-in-progress. Please let me know if you spot any poetry books that I’ve missed. (NOTE: My list is very inclusive and embraces verse novels and poetry-linked books that aren’t eligible in the poetry category, but are eligible in other categories. FYI)

Poetry for Young People 2008 (so far)

1. Adoff, Jaime. 2008. The Death of Jayson Porter. New York: Jump at the Sun/Hyperion.
2. Alarcón, Francisco X. 2008. Animals Poems of the Iguazú / Animalario del Iguazú. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.
3. Ardelius, Gunnar. 2008. I Need You More Than I Love You and I Love You to Bits. Asheville, NC: Front Street.
4. Ashman, Linda. 2008. M is for Mischief. New York: Dutton.
5. Ashman, Linda. 2008. Stella, Unleashed. New York: Sterling.
6. Beck, Carolyn. Buttercup’s Lovely Day. Custer, WA: Orca Books.
7. Bryant, Jen. 2008. A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams. New York: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
8. Bryant, Jen. 2008. Ringside 1925; Views From the Scopes Trial. New York: Knopf.
9. Cheng, Andrea. 2008. Where the Steps Were. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills/Wordsong.
10. Dickinson, Emily. 2008. My Letter to the World. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. New York: Kids Can Press.
11. Elliott, David. 2008. On the Farm. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
12. Engle, Margarita. 2008. The Surrender Tree. New York: Holt.
13. Fehler, Gene. 2008. Beanball. New York: Clarion.
14. Field, Eugene. 2008. Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. Illustrated by Giselle Potter. New York: Schwartz and Wade Books.
15. Frank, John. 2008. Keepers: Treasure-Hunt Poems. New York: Roaring Brook.
16. Frost, Helen. 2008. Diamond Willow. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
17. Gerber, Carole. 2008. Winter Trees. Ill. by Leslie Evans. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
18. Ghigna, Charles. 2008. Score! 50 Poems to Motivate and Inspire. New York: Abrams.
19. Giovanni, Nikki. Coll. 2008. Hip Hop Speaks to Children. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks.
20. Greenberg, Jan. 2008. Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World. New York: Abrams.
21. Greenfield, Eloise. 2008. Brothers and Sisters: Family Poems. New York: Amistad/HarperCollins.
22. Harley, Avis. 2008. The Monarch’s Progress: Poems with Wings. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills/Wordsong.
23. Harrison, David. L. 2008. Pirates. Ill. by Dan Burr. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills/Wordsong.
24. Herrick, Steven. 2008. Naked Bunyip Dancing. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills/Wordsong.
25. High, Linda Oatman. 2008. Planet Pregnancy. Asheville, NC: Front Street.
26. Holbrook, Sara and Wolf, Allan. 2008. More Than Friends; Poems from Him and Her. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
27. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2008. America at War. New York: McElderry.
28. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2008. Hamsters, Shells, and Spelling Bees. New York: HarperCollins.
29. Iyengar, Malathi Michelle. 2008. Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press
30. Katz, Alan. 2008. Oops. New York: Margaret K. McElderry.
31. Larios, Julie. 2008. Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
32. Lawson, Jonarno. 2008. Black Stars in a White Night Sky. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills/Wordsong.
33. Lewis, J. Patrick, and Janeczko, Paul B. 2008. Birds on a Wire. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
34. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2008. The World’s Greatest: Poems. San Francisco: Chronicle.
35. LeZotte, Ann Clare. 2008. T4. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
36. Maddox, Marjories, 2008. A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills/Wordsong.
37. Michael, Pamela, Ed. 2008. River of Words. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed.
38. Mora, Pat. 2008. Join Hands! The Ways We Celebrate Life. Photographs by George Ancona. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
39. Nelson, Marilyn. 2008. The Freedom Business. Asheville, NC: Front Street.
40. Nye, Naomi Shihab. 2008. Honeybee. New York: Greenwillow.
41. Prelutsky, Jack. 2008. Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face and Other Poems. New York: Greenwillow.
42. Prelutsky, Jack. 2008. My Dog May Be a Genius. New York: Greenwillow.
43. Prelutsky, Jack. 2008. Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry; How to Write a Poem. New York: Greenwillow.
44. Reibstein, Mark. 2008. Wabi Sabi. Ill. by Ed Young. New York: Little, Brown.
45. Rovetch, Gerda. 2008. There Was a Man Who Loved a Rat; And Other Vile Little Poems. New York: Philomel.
46. Salas, Laura Purdie. 2008. Lettuce Introduce You: Poems About Foot (A+ Books). Minneapolis, MN: Capstone.
47. Sanderson, Ruth. 2008. Mother Goose and Friends. New York: Little, Brown.
48. Sierra, Judy. 2008. Beastly Rhymes to Read After Dark. Ill. by Brian Biggs. New York: Knopf.
49. Singer, Marilyn. 2008. First Food Fight This Fall. New York: Sterling.
50. Singer, Marilyn. 2008. Shoe Bop! New York: Dutton.
51. Smith, Hope Anita. 2008. Keeping the Night Watch. New York: Henry Holt.
52. Soto, Gary. 2008. Partly Cloudy; Poems of Love and Longing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
53. Wassenhove, Sue Van. 2008. The Seldom-Ever-Shady Glades. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills/Wordsong.
54. Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2008. Becoming Billie Holiday. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
55. Wesiburd, Stefi. 2008. Barefoot: Poems for Naked Feet. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills/Wordsong.
56. Weston, Robert Paul. 2008. Zorgamazoo. New York: Razorbill/Penguin.
57. Winters, Kay. 2008. Colonial Voices, Hear Them Speak. New York: Dutton.
58. Wong, Janet. 2008. Minn and Jake's Almost Terrible Summer. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
59. Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. 2008. 42 Miles. New York: Clarion.
60. Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. 2008. Steady Hands: Poems About Work. New York: Clarion.

For more this Poetry Friday, go to Two Writing Teachers.

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