Friday, September 08, 2023

New anthology: WHAT IS HOPE?

Please indulge a bit of self-promotion-- I'm so happy to "toot the horn" for a new poetry anthology for middle grades that features new and established poets writing about the theme of HOPE. Janet (Wong) and I created a summer workshop called "Think Poetry" especially for educators who wanted to learn more about writing and teaching poetry. We created 10 instructional videos, provided individualized feedback on poem drafts, and collaborated with 40 poets on creating this new book, What Is Hope? You can learn a bit more about "Think Poetry" here. Our 10 instructional videos focused on:


Stanzas & structure
Similes & metaphors
List poems
Mask poems
Syllabic poetry
Free verse

In each video, Janet modeled poem writing and shared strategies she uses to compose and revise poems and we both suggested a variety of tips for teaching each poetry element. Plus, we had a lot of fun and laughter! 

Our 40 poets featured in What Is Hope? include: 

Each poet chose a photo prompt from a selection of black and white photos that we provided and then drafted a poem tied to the photo and to the theme of hope. We LOVE all the different directions that poets took that important theme! Don't we all need a little more HOPE in our daily lives? Here are just a few sample poems:

We are also so thrilled that What Is Hope? was selected as a Children's Book Council "Hot Off the Press" selection! We hope you'll check it out. As with other books in the "WHAT IS" series (What Is a Friend?, What Is a Family?, as well as our books in the "THINGS WE" series (Things We Do, Things We Eat, Things We Feel, Things We Wear) for young readers, 100% of the profits are donated to the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund that helps get books to children around the world in the most difficult circumstances (like the war in Ukraine, after the earthquake in Turkey). 

We hope to offer our "Think Poetry" online workshop (with mentoring and feedback) again in January, 2024, with a new theme, new photo prompts, and new poets. Make a resolution now to grow your own poetry writing next year and reach out to us when you're ready! 

Next up: Go check out Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's blog, The Poem Farm, where she is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering this week. See you there! 

Friday, September 01, 2023


I'm so pleased to invite friend and poet Jacqueline Jules to share her guest post about a new book commemorating the attacks on the Pentagon on September 11. 

Jacqueline writes:

On the first anniversary of 9/11, the elementary school where I was teaching in Northern Virginia marked the day with a moment of silence on our in-house television news show. A representative from the Student Council read a brief tribute to the fallen. 

In the following years, September 11th came and went without school-wide recognition. As the school librarian, I purchased two picture books recalling 9/11: The Man Who Walked Between the Towers and Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey for my collection. The children checked them out from time to time, but they were not in high demand by classroom teachers. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 was not in the curriculum.

Years passed and the children who were in preschool or kindergarten in 2001 grew up. And one day, in a conversation with some of my sixth graders, I learned that my students had absolutely no idea that the Pentagon had been attacked on September 11. I was surprised, since we were all residents of Northern Virginia, where the Pentagon is located. I shared this surprise with a friend. She responded with a suggestion. “Write a book about being in Arlington when the Pentagon was attacked. You lived through this. You know what it was like.”

I was immediately inspired. My own personal memories of that day were still very clear in my mind. I also remembered stories from students, family members, and friends. We talked about that day—where we were and what we did—for months afterward. One friend was late to work the day of the Pentagon attack. An elementary school teacher comforted frightened children who heard the plane hit and saw the smoke. So many stories. So many different emotions and perspectives. How could I give as many memories as possible a voice?

Narrative poetry was the answer. With first-person narrative poems, I could portray multiple reactions from a wide variety of children. In Smoke at the Pentagon: Poems to Remember Kelvin, Age 5, talks about being on the swings at recess and suddenly hearing a loud boom. 

Leo, Age 15, thinks about his mother who accompanied him to the dermatologist on the morning of September 1 instead of going into her Pentagon office. Leo wonders “why the people who died/didn’t have somewhere else to go that day,/why they just happened to be where they were/ at that moment instead of someplace else/with someone who must be missing them still.”

Poetry can provide the opportunity to share an individual story on a single page. The twenty children in Smoke at the Pentagon: Poems to Remember range in age from 3 to 21. I hope their stories will help students across the country understand the emotions of those who lived in Northern Virginia on September 11, 2001.

BIO: Jacqueline Jules is the award-winning author of over fifty books for young readers including the Zapato Power series, the Sofia Martinez series, and four Sydney Taylor Honor Books. Her novel-in-verse, My Name is Hamburger, was a PJ Our Way selection in 2022. The back story of her other book of poems for young readers, Tag Your Dreams: Poems of Play and Persistence was shared at Poetry for Children in April 2020 

Visit to learn more.

Thank you, Jacqueline for sharing this lovely book for this important anniversary.

Now, join the rest of the Poetry Friday group at Pleasures from the Page where Ramona is hosting our gathering. 

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Happy National Poetry Month!

Happy National Poetry Month! It's always fun to see the whole world (or much of it anyway) pausing to celebrate poetry all month long. I'm happy to toot the horn for some new poetry books out this year, starting with one of my own, a collaborative anthology entitled WHAT IS A FAMILY? co-edited with Janet Wong and featuring original poems by 40 poets. Poets include: Alma Flor Ada, Gail Aldous, Alexia M. Andoni, Chris Baron, Willeena Booker, Sandy Brehl, Judy Bryan, Elenore Byrne, F. Isabel Campoy, Kate Coombs, Cynthia Cotten, Mary E. Cronin, Leslie Degnan, Janet Clare Fagal, Theresa Gaughan, Rajani LaRocca, Renée M. LaTulippe, Rebecca Gardyn Levington, Molly Lorenz, Rochelle Melander, Jack Prelutsky, Joan Riordan, Donna JT Smith, Anastasia Suen, Pamela Taylor, Joyce Uglow, Fernanda Valentino, April Halprin Wayland, Vicki Wilke, Matthew Winter, Janet Wong, and Helen Kemp Zax.

Here's a glimpse of 5 of the poems read by the poets (and one read by me). 

Interested? You can buy the book here and here. All profits are being donated to the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund which brings books (and love) to children who are hurting and in desperate need in places like Ukraine, Turkey, El Salvador and elsewhere. 

Friday, January 13, 2023


I am so honored to reveal the cover of Laura Shovan's new book of poems, 
with illustrations by Michael Rothenberg
(published by Loyola College/Apprentice House) 

Meet 16 weird and quirky monsters in art and poems! Monster neighbors, monster houses, monster moos, bubblegum monsters, hungry monsters, monster birthdays, chicken monsters, shy monsters, angry monsters, root monsters, sad monsters, micro monsters, monster bugs, and more. Hey, maybe monsters are just like us!

Author and poet Laura Shovan writes: 
I am a doodler. Robots are my favorite thing to draw because they’re made out of simple shapes: square heads, rectangular bodies, lines for arms and legs. My friend, the poet Michael Rothenberg, also loved to play through art.

A few weeks before the pandemic began, Michael messaged me. He’d drawn a blue monster with red lips and six pink feet! The monster was so cute that I was inspired to write a poem. I sent it off to Michael as a surprise.

Michael, who passed away in November, was a creative force. In no time, he sent me a second monster, and then a third and a fourth. It was impossible to keep up with his burst of artistic energy, but I tried. When I sat down with a monster and my poetry notebook, I learned to trust whatever thoughts and images showed up – just as my friend was doing with his drawings.

All through the pandemic, the monsters gave Michael and me a way to look at our fears and sadness, to express our silly sides and feelings of joy. I hope this book acknowledges that children are emotional creatures who “laugh and talk, play and cry, sing and dance… hide when they are afraid, cry when they hurt, kiss and hug when in love,” as Dr. Mercedes B. ter Maat says in her introduction to the book. And I hope that educators will use Welcome to Monsterville as a springboard for classroom conversations about sitting with strong emotions, rather than burying them or pushing them aside.

Laura Shovan is a children’s author, educator, and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. Her chapbook, Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone won the inaugural Harriss Poetry Prize. Her work appears in journals and anthologies for children and adults. Laura’s award-winning middle grade novels include The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, Takedown, and the Sydney Taylor Notable A Place at the Table, written with Saadia Faruqi. Laura is a longtime poet-in-the-schools for the Maryland State Arts Council. She serves on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts.

THANK YOU, Laura, for sharing your new book with us and honoring me with your special COVER REVEAL! Like everyone, I LOVE book covers and getting the flavor of the book based on this image. Clearly, Welcome to Monsterville is full of fun and it definitely makes me want to draw a monster! 

Head on over to Chicken Spaghetti where Susan is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering.

Thursday, January 05, 2023

Sneak Peek List 2023

I may be retired and blogging a lot less, but I still love keeping track of poetry for young people and I'm looking forward to all the new poetry for young readers that is due to be published in the year ahead. Here's my "sneak peek" list of poetry collections, anthologies, and novels in verse that are set to be published in 2023. If I am missing any new poetry books, please let me know. Or if I have mis-categorized a book, just let me know. (I don't include rhyming picture books. There are other places where those are featured.)  I'll keep updating this list all year long as I learn about new poetry books. I hope the list serves as a helpful resource for library collection development or for anyone seeking new poetry for young readers. Next step: FIND and READ and SHARE these books!  

Sneak Peek List of Poetry for Young People 2023
  1. Akhbari, Parisa. 2023. Just Another Epic Love Poem. Dial.
  2. Alexander, Kwame. 2023. An American Story. Ill. by Dare Coulter. Little, Brown.
  3. Ashman, Linda. 2023. Champion Chompers, Super Stinkers, and Other Poems by Extraordinary Animals. Ill. by Aparna Varma. Kids Can Press.
  4. Baldwin, Cindy. 2023. No Matter the Distance. HarperCollins.
  5. Baptist, Kelly J. 2023. Eb and Flow. Penguin Random House.
  6. Bécotte, Jonathan. 2023. Like a Hurricane. Translated by Jonathan Kaplansky. Orca.
  7. Bowles, David. 2023. The Prince and the Coyote. Ill. by Amanda Mijangos. Levine Querido.
  8. Bramer, Shannon. 2023. Robot, Unicorn, Queen. Ill. by Irene Luxbacher. Groundwood Books. 
  9. Browne, Mahogany L. 2023. Epicenter. Crown.
  10. Brunskill, Amelia. 2023. Wolfpack. Little, Brown. 
  11. Bulion, Leslie. 2023. Galápagos: Islands of Change. Ill. by Becca Stadtlander. Peachtree Press. 
  12. Burgess, Matthew. 2023. Words with Wings and Magic Things. Ill. by Doug Salati. Tundra Books. 
  13. Burgess, Sarah. 2023. Skip! Andrews McMeel.
  14. Castle, Jiordan. 2023. Disappearing Act. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  15. Coelho, Joseph. 2023. Courage Out Loud. Ill. by Daniel Gray-Barnett. Wide Eyed Editions.
  16. Cole, Olivia. 2023. Dear Medusa. Labyrinth Road. 
  17. Coombs, Kate. 2023. Today I Am a River. Sounds True.
  18. Datcher, Dr. Michael. 2023. Harlem at Four. Ill. by Frank Morrison. Random House Studio. 
  19. Dotlich, Rebecca Kai and Heard, Georgia. 2023. Welcome to The Wonder House. Ill. by Deborah Freedman. Penguin Random House.
  20. Dyer, Madeline. 2023. Being Ace. Page Street.
  21. Edinger, Monica and Younge, Lesley. 2023. Nearer My Freedom. Lerner/Zest.
  22. Elhillo, Safia. 2023. Bright Red Fruit. New York: Random House.
  23. Elliott, Zetta. 2023. A Song for Juneteenth. Ill. by David Anthony Geary. Little, Brown.
  24. Engle, Margarita. 2023. Destiny Finds Her Way. National Geographic Kids.
  25. Engle, Margarita. 2023. Water Day. Atheneum. 
  26. Engle, Margarita. 2023. Wings in the Wild. Simon & Schuster.
  27. Fritz, Joanne Rossmassler. 2023. Ruptured. Holiday House. 
  28. Fussner, Kate. 2023. O&E. HarperCollins.
  29. Ghigna, Charles. 2023. The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry: 101 Favorite Poems for Children. Ill. by Sara Brezzi. Schiffer Kids. 
  30. Gianferrari, Maria. 2023. Fungi Grow. Ill. by Diana Sudyka. S&S/Beach Lane Books.
  31. Gopal, Jyoti Rajan. 2023. Desert Queen. Ill. by Svabhu Kohli. Levine Querido. 
  32. Gow, Robin. 2023. Ode to My First Car. Macmillan/Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 
  33. Green, Shari. 2023. Game Face. Groundwood Books.
  34. Grimes, Nikki. 2023. A Walk in the Woods: Lullaby for the King. Ill. by Michelle Carlos. Beaming Books.
  35. Grimes, Nikki. 2023. Garvey’s Choice: The Graphic Novel. Ill. Theodore Taylor by Astra/Wordsong.
  36. Harjo, Joy. 2023. Remember. Ill. by Michaela Goade. Random House Studio.
  37. Harjo, Joy. 2023. The Good Luck Cat. Ill. by Shonto Begay. Random House Studio.
  38. Hood, Susan. 2023. Harboring Hope. HarperCollins.
  39. Hopkins, Ellen. 2023. Last Chance. Putnam/Nancy Paulsen Books. 
  40. Hughes, Langston. 2023. An Earth Song. Ill. by Tequitia Andrews. Cameron Kids. 
  41. Iloh, Candice. 2023. Salt the Water. Dutton.
  42. Jules, Jacqueline. 2023. Smoke at the Pentagon: Poems to Remember. Bushel & Peck.
  43. Kemp, Laekan Zea. 2023. An Appetite for Miracles. Little, Brown.
  44. Kim, Kyunghee. 2023. See Us Bloom. Ill. by Emily Paik. Modern Marigold Books. 
  45. Kramaroff, Dana. 2023. The Do More Club. Rocky Pond Books.
  46. Krasner, Barbara. 2023. Camp Nordland. Astra/Calkins Creek. 
  47. Kuyatt, Meg Eden. 2023. Good Different. Scholastic. 
  48. Lai, Thanhhá. 2023. When Clouds Touch Us. HarperCollins.
  49. LaRocca, Rajani. 2023. Mirror to Mirror. HarperCollins/Quill Tree. 
  50. LaRocca, Rajani. 2023. Your One and Only Heart. Ill. by Lauren Paige Conrad. Dial.
  51. Latham, Irene. 2023. The Moon Is a Museum: Poems About Things Left on the Lunar Surface. Bushel and Peck Books.
  52. Levington, Rebecca Gardyn. 2023. Whatever Comes Tomorrow. Ill. by Mariona Cabassa. Barefoot Books.
  53. Levinson, Suzy. 2023. Animals in Pants. Ill. by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell. Cameron Books.
  54. Lukidis, Lydia. 2023. Deep, Deep Down: The Secret Underwater Poetry of the Marianna Trench. Ill. by Juan Calle. Capstone. 
  55. Madan, Vikram. 2023. Zooni Tales: Keep It Up, Lucky Pup! Holiday House.
  56. Magee, Bridget. Ed. 2023. Two Truths and a Fib Poetry Anthology. Wee words for wee ones.
  57. Mali, Taylor. 2023. The Teachers I Loved Best. Ill. by Erica Root. Doubleday.
  58. McCullough, Joy. 2023. Enter the Body. Dutton.
  59. Mendez, Jasminne. 2023. Aniana del Mar Jumps In. Dial.
  60. Metcalf, Lindsay H., Bradley, Jeanette; Dawson, Keila V. Eds. 2023. No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change. Charlesbridge.
  61. Patel-Sage, Krina. 2023. Watch Me Bloom: A Bouquet Haiku Poems for Budding Naturalists. Lantana.
  62. Peters, Lisa Westberg. 2023. Push-Pull Morning: Dog-Powered Poems About Matter and Energy. Ill. by Serge Bloch. Astra/Wordsong.
  63. Petrus, Junauda. 2023. Can We Please Give the Police Department to the Grandmothers? Ill. by Kristen Uroda. Dutton. 
  64. Ponweera, Thushanthi. 2023. I am Kavi. Holiday House. 
  65. Quigley, Dawn. 2023. Red Bird Danced. Heartdrum. 
  66. Ramos, NoNieqa. 2023. Best Believe. Ill. by Nicole Medina. Lerner/Carolrhoda.
  67. Romero, R. M. 2023. A Warning About Swans. Peachtree Teen.
  68. Salas, Laura Purdie. 2023. Zap! Clap! Boom!: The Story of a Thunderstorm. Ill. by Elly MacKay. Bloomsbury.
  69. Sandberg, Carl. 2023. Theme in Yellow. Ill. by Tatyana Feeney. Cameron Kids.
  70. Sawyerr, Hannah V. 2023. Call Him by Name. Abrams. 
  71. Schechter, Robert. 2023. The Red Ear Blows Its Nose: Poems for Children. Word Galaxy.
  72. Schu, John. 2023. Louder Than Hunger. Candlewick.
  73. Scott, Jordan. 2023. Angela’s Glacier. Ill. by Diana Sudyka. Holiday House. 
  74. Scott, Jordan. 2023. Worms for Baba’s Garden. Ill. by Sydney Smith. Holiday House.
  75. Shepard, Ray A. 2023. Long Time Coming: The Ona Judge to Barack Obama Chronicles. Ill. by R. Gregory Christie. Astra/Calkins Creek. 
  76. Shovan, Laura. 2023. Welcome to Monsterville. Ill. by Michael Rothenberg. Apprentice House Press. 
  77. Silverman, Erica. 2023. The City Sings Green and Other Poems About Welcoming Wildlife. Ill. by Ginnie Hsu. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 
  78. Smith, Crystal Simone. 2023. Dark Testament. Henry Holt. 
  79. Smith, Danna. 2023. Peek-a-boo Haiku. Ill. by Teegan White. Little Simon.
  80. Sorell, Traci and Waters, Charles. 2023. Mascot. Charlesbridge.
  81. Stone, Tiffany. 2023. Super Small: Miniature Marvels of the Natural World. Ill. by Ashley Spires. Greystone Kids. 
  82. Sumner, Jamine. 2023. Glory Be. Atheneum.
  83. Tafolla, Carmen. 2023. Warrior Girl. Penguin Random House. 
  84. Taylor, Susan Johnston. 2023. Animals in Surprising Shades: Poems About Earth’s Colorful Creatures. Ill. by Annie Bakst. Gnome Road Publishing.
  85. Thompson, Holly. 2023. Listening to Trees: The Woodworking Ways of George Nakashima. Ill. by Toshiki Nakamura. Holiday House.
  86. Tison, Ari. 2023. Saints of the Household. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 
  87. VanderLugt, Dana. 2023. Enemies in the Orchard: A World War 3 Novel in Verse. Zonderkidz. 
  88. Weatherford, Carol B. 2023. All Rise: The Story of Ketanji Brown Jackson. Ill. by Ashley Evans. Crown. 
  89. Weatherford, Carole B. 2023. Kin. Ill. by Jeffery Weatherford. Atheneum. 
  90. Weatherford, Carole B. 2023. You Are My Pride: A Love Letter from Your Motherland. Ill. by E. B. Lewis. Astra Books for Young Readers. 
  91. Weatherford, Carole B. 2023. How Do You Spell UNFAIR? MacNolia Cox and the National Spelling Bee. Ill. by Frank Morrison. Candlewick.
  92. Wilson, Kip. 2023. One Last Shot. Versify.

For this first Poetry Friday of the new year, Catherine is hosting us over at Reading to the Core. See you there!