Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Shedding Light on AFTER DARK

Today is my turn to participate in a "blog tour" for my friend, David L. Harrison's new book, After Dark. I asked David to share some back story about the writing of this new poetry collection and he was happy to oblige. Welcome, David!

David Harrison writes: After Dark is a collection of poems, with accompanying back notes, featuring creatures that stir about their business after the sun goes down. It’s my 97th book and set for publication on February 25. It is beautifully illustrated by Stephanie (Steph) Laberis. 

I formally presented the proposal to Mary Colgan, who was at that time my editor at Boyds Mills Press, on May 9, 2015. She chose it as her favorite from among half a dozen ideas we’d recently discussed in a phone call. 

But After Dark started long before 2015. After Dark has always been with me. It was with me when I was six years old, camping in a tent with my parents beside White Horse Lake in Arizona, listening to bears not so far away banging on metal trash cans in futile efforts to get a free meal. With me in third grade, camping in the back yard beside a sheet draped over the clothesline and illuminated from within so I could capture night moths that came to the light. With me as I walked in the dark up a streambed looking for frogs but catching a water moccasin instead. Later, much later, I wrote Goose Lake, a book about the lake behind the house where we’ve lived for thirty years. It included this passage.

Morning News
Dusk has just enough time to pull a blanket over the day crew before full dark summons the night shift. Toothy yawns and yearning bellies greet another evening of chance. At one time or another I’ve met all the players: foxes sniffing for hidden ducklings; skunk families strolling my yard, raccoons that should be arrested for repeatedly breaking into my attic; light-blinded opossums who lose lopsided duels with cars. Deer . . . coyotes . . . stray cats . . .  they’ve all appeared on the hooded stage between my back door and the lake. Their visits are rarely marked. Only snow gives them a slate on which to write their dramas. Even then they tell you no more than they must.

credit: Nathan Papes, Springfield News-Leader
So in some ways, After Dark is the book I was supposed to write all along. Maybe the first 96 books were warm-ups for this one. When Mary Colgan left Boyds Mills Press, Brittany Ryan took over. When Kane bought Boyds Mills Press, Rebecca Davis became my editor. And now, dear readers, it’s in your hands. I hope you like my cast of moonlight characters. 

David L. Harrison

More about David L. Harrison:
David L. Harrison’s 97 books for children and teachers have received dozens of honors, including Society of Midland Authors award for best children’s nonfiction book, 2016; Missouri Pioneer in Education Award; and Missouri Library Association’s Literacy Award. His work has been widely translated and anthologized more than 185 times. His poems have been set to music and sandblasted into a library sidewalk. He has been featured at hundreds of conferences, workshops, literature festivals, schools, and colleges. David holds two science degrees and two honorary doctorates of letters. He’s Drury University’s poet laureate and David Harrison Elementary School is named for him.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Hop to It!

Trumpets, please!

Right here, right now, we're issuing an invitation to submit poems for our next book, HOP TO IT: Poems to Get You Moving, to be published later this year by our company Pomelo Books. This will be an anthology of approximately 75 poems that incorporate movement and we'd like you to submit a poem for consideration!

Some key elements:
--We're on a super-short deadline. We need to receive poems by March 31, 2020
--We aim to publish this book in August of this year
--Poems should be geared toward PreK - Grade 5 (short poems = better)
--Poems should be previously unpublished (not even included in blog posts yet)
--You'll retain the copyright in your poem (and will be free to use it elsewhere after publication)
--Please understand that we'll have room for only ~75 poems, so we'll have to say no to hundreds of excellent poems (an unfortunate reality for all our books).

We believe that welcoming poem submissions from everyone who would like to have a poem considered for this book is an inclusive approach that will yield a wonderful variety of high-quality poems. Although we currently work with nearly 200 poets whom we adore, we pride ourselves on identifying and promoting new poets-- and we never know who will be able to "deliver" the best poems for a particular topic or need.

So, if you are a poet who loves to hop, jump, twist, twiddle, spin, shrug, reach-- or even sit very, very still, stretching and breathing slowly-- please read on!

What we envision is a book of poems that teachers, librarians, parents, grandparents, and leaders in summer camps and afterschool programs can use to help children "get the wiggles out." We'd like many poems to encourage movements that can be done while seated in a chair, both to be inclusive and to fit those moments when jumping around the room isn't practical. If the poems can also incorporate some poetry and language elements (such as simile or alliteration or capitalization or punctuation), that's even better. Here's a list for some inspiration:

What is most important, though, is that these poems be terrific examples of rich imagery, musical language, and relevance to children. While it's so difficult to evaluate this, it is very easy to recognize. We all know it when we read an outstanding poem, right? To see what we mean, take a look at some of our favorite poems at the Pomelo Books Pinterest page  and then, if you're inspired, Hop to It . . . and write a poem!

Submit a poem at PomeloSubmissions@gmail.com.

Now head on over to TeacherDance where Linda is hosting our Poetry Friday fun. See you there!

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Oppa, Gangnam Style!

Eight years ago, seventy-six poets joined us in a project that aimed to make it easy for K-5 teachers to share poetry with their students for five minutes each Friday. That was 2012, the year we created The Poetry Friday Anthology K-5. One edition of the book was designed to help teachers integrate poetry lessons with the CCSS (Common Core State Standards). Another edition of the book focused on the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills).

Immediately after these books came out, middle school teachers and librarians asked us to create middle school versions. In 2013, we published The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School, again with one CCSS edition and one Texas TEKS edition.

To give you some context, the hit song in 2012 was "Gangnam Style." In 2013, the second Hunger Games movie, "Catching Fire," had just been released. That was the year that Beyonce admitted to lip-synching the national anthem at President Obama's inauguration. (We still loved it, anyway.) It feels like such a long time ago, doesn't it?

That's how we're feeling now about those books with the big sun on the cover. We love them, but they remind us of a time that has passed. Many states have left the CCSS behind, moving from the Common Core to standards that might still be very similar but have different names and code numbers) or fewer standards overall (which we think is a good thing). The Poetry TEKS are still in full force, but have been slightly revised since 2012. And so we believe it's time to say goodbye to those books. May 31, 2020 will be the last day of their availability on Amazon. You might be able to find them during the summer at QEPBooks.com or some of our other distributors or independent booksellers, but probably not for long after that.

The good news is that we're going to keep on publishing and promoting our other books in The Poetry Friday Anthology series, and in the Poetry Friday Power Book series, and also our title for administrators, GREAT Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud.

Here's a summary, in case any of these books are new to you:

The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science is an NSTA Recommends book that comes in two editions: a K-5 Teacher/Librarian Edition and an illustrated student edition with extra bonus poems, The Poetry of Science. A STEM poem from these books is featured monthly in our column in the NSTA elementary journal Science and Children, along with a Take 5! mini-lesson that gives teachers and librarians a quick ready-made presentation on a STEM topic such as lab safety or ecosystems or 3-D printing.

The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, an ILA Notable Book for a Global Society, is available in both Teacher/Librarian and Student editions. A neat feature: you'll find a picture book pairing (recommendation) for each of the 150+ poems in the book. And each of the poems is presented in both English and Spanish versions. If you don't want to share the Spanish versions, you can ignore them; but if you want to highlight some of them by playing audio readings by award-winning writer David Bowles and some of his UTRGV students, listen for free at SoundCloud. https://soundcloud.com/user-862117714/sets/bilingual-performances

Moving onto our Poetry Friday Power Book series, which focuses on building the reading-writing connection and playing with words: 

You Just Wait, an NCTE Poetry Notable, is an interactive writing journal that weaves 12 anchor poems (by poets such as Margarita Engle and Joseph Bruchac) together with 24 poems by Janet Wong, told in the voices of three teen characters: Paz, a star soccer player; Joe, a basketball player with limited skills but big dreams; and Lucesita, who loves movies and food.

Here We Go, an NCTE Poetry Notable and an NNSTOY Social Justice Book, is an interactive writing journal with anchor poets that include Naomi Shihab Nye and David Bowles. Janet Wong created 4 characters for this book, children who want to change the world—starting with a food drive, walkathon, and school garden.

Pet Crazy, for youngest readers and writers, includes anchor poets Laura Shovan and Padma Venkatraman and 3 characters created by Janet Wong: Kristy, who loves cats; Ben, who wishes he could have a dog; and Daniel, who loves all animals but doesn't feel a need to own a pet. This book has a Hidden Language Skills section with poetry and general language skills (such as capitalization and spelling).

Finally, create a school culture of positivity with the morning announcement poems-- and Did You Know? Intros-- found in GREAT Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud, featuring well-known poets such as Carole Boston Weatherford and Jack Prelutsky, newer poets such as Traci Sorell and Xelena Gonzalez, and educators who are poets, too, such as Carol Varsalona and Catherine Flynn.

PHEW! That was a lot of information, we know. So visit this blog again next week for an additional very exciting piece of news! A big Poetry Friday THANK YOU to all the poets who took a risk with us on those very first books and all the teachers and librarians who have used, loved, and shared those books. We hope they have helped you infuse more poetry into your routine, build your confidence with strategies for sharing poetry, and gotten the young people you love excited about poetry!

Now, it's time for more Poetry Friday fun! The lovely Laura Purdie Salas is hosting all our postings today, so go there now!  

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Poetry among the ALA Awards

I was in Philadelphia last year for the American Library Association midwinter conference and was in the room on Monday when they announced all the big awards-- such a fun, electric morning! And as usual, I like to celebrate the works of poetry that are among the award winners. So, here you go: 

John Newbery Medal is given to the most outstanding contribution to children's literature.
Newbery Honor Books: 
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Versify/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins Publishers)

Randolph Caldecott Medal is given to the most distinguished American picture book for children.
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Versify/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award Winner:
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Versify/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Michael L. Printz Award is for excellence in literature written for young adults
Printz Honor Book: 
Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir by Nikki Grimes (Wordsong/Boyds Mills & Kane)

Odyssey Award goes to the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.
Odyssey Honor Audiobooks:
Redwood and Ponytail produced by Hachette Audio, written by K.A. Holt and narrated by Cassandra Morris and Tessa Netting
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga produced by Live Oak Media, written by Traci Sorell and narrated by Lauren Hummingbird, Agalisiga (Choogie) Mackey, Ryan Mackey, Traci Sorell, Tonia Weavel

The Pura Belpré Awards honor a Latino writer and illustrator whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.
The Pura Belpré Illustrator Award
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster)

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award is for the most distinguished informational book for children.
Sibert Winner:
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (Roaring Brook Press) 
Sibert Honor Book:
Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir by Nikki Grimes (Wordsong/Boyds Mills & Kane)

The American Indian Youth Literature award is announced in even years and established to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. The award is administered by the American Indian Library Association (AILA), an affiliate of the American Library Association. 
Picture Book Honors: 
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (Seminole Nation, Mekusukey Band), illustrated by Juana Martínez-Neal (Peruvian-American) (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan)
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell (Cherokee), illustrated by Frané Lessac (Charlesbridge) 
At the Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorell (Cherokee), illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre (Tongva/Scots-Gaelic) (Kokila/Penguin Random House)

[This one is NOT poetry, but I have to include it, because this is the award committee that I was fortunate to chair this year. I had a lovely committee and we are so pleased with our choice.] 
Children’s Literature Legacy Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children’s lives and experiences. The 2020 winner is Kevin Henkes, whose award-winning works include Kitten’s First Full Moon which won the Caldecott Award in 2005 and The Year of Billy Miller, recipient of a Newbery Honor in 2014. In addition, Henkes has received two Geisel honors, two Caldecott honors and a second Newbery honor.

Now head on over to Jone's place where she is gathering all the Poetry Friday goodness.