Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Issue of Horn Book Magazine

Horn Book MagazineMay/June 2008

Altogether, One at a Time: A family-friendly issue

An Interview with Rudine Sims Bishop by Kathleen T. Horning
Talking with the foremost scholar of African American children's literature. Web Extras

Reading about Families in My Family by Megan Lambert
What if there are no books about families like yours? Web Extras

Truffles by Linda Sue Park

Goodnight Squishy Ball by Amy Schwartz

A Dad Grows Up by Christopher Paul Curtis
The effects of "parental micromanagement" on kids' reading

Trashing Elmo by Ginee Seo & Bruce Brooks
"Taste . . . is an elusive, reaching thing."

Unriddling the World by Susan Cooper Web Extras

God Knows, Philip Pullman by Anne Quirk
Do we place too much faith in literature? Web Extras

Book Reviews: A sampling from the latest issue

Audiobook Reviews

Recommended Reissues
Finesse or Faux Pas? by Terri Schmitz

The Writer's Page
Quack-tique by Sherry Shahan

YA Lit and the Deathly Fellows by Patty Campbell Web Extras

“Grandpa and Great-Uncle Paul” by Eloise Greenfield

May/June Starred Books

Preview of next issue: A sneak peek at what's coming up!

Book Review: Madam President

I missed Take Your Daughter and Son to Work Day. It was last Thursday, April 24. But, I still want to share a wonderful book that I think would be excellent to read to your daughters and sons or the students in your classroom. The book is the revised and updated version of Catherine Thimmesh's Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics (2008, Houghton Mifflin).

Boy: "I'm going to be an architect when I grow up."
Girl: "I want to be an astronaut."
Man: "Who wants to be a science teacher?"
Boy: "...a landscaper..."
Woman: "Or a brain surgeon?"
Teenage girl: "I wish I were a dolphin trainer."
Boy: " I want to be a computer programmer..."
Girl: "I'm going to be a tour guide."
Girl: "When I grow up, I'm going to be the president of the United States."
Boy: "You...?" "a.... GIRL?"
Teenage girl: "Well, maybe you could marry a president..."

This dialogue between various boys, girls, teenagers, and adults is how Madam President begins...until the recent event of Hilary Clinton running for president, this dialogue would be common in most school. Of course, this is why a book like this is so desparately needed. Textbooks have been criticized for exclusion of the accomplishments of females and people of color. Books such as Madam President can serve as a wonderful resource highlighting the accomplishments of women of the past and present, in the US and internationally, and women of many nationalities.

Following the dialogue above, a series of brief, illustrated profiles of politically influential women throughout American history are presented, beginning with famous first ladies: Abigail Adams, Edith Bolling Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lady Bird Johnson, Rosalynn Carter, and newly added Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The next section portrays important early women's rights activists: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Charlotte Woodard, Susan B. Anthony, Sara Bard Field, and Mrs. J. L. Burn.

The next section highlights recent female movers and shakers in Congress: Jeanette Rankin, Margaret Chase Smith, and recently added Nancy Pelosi. Women who hold/have held a higher position in government are next: Frances Perkins, Madeleine Albright, Sandra Day O'Connor, and newly added Condoleezza Rice, and vice presidental candidate Geraldine Ferraro.

Finally four female leaders from other countries are depicted: Sirimavo Bandaranaike (prime minister of Sri Lanka), Vigdis Finnbogadottir (president of Iceland), Margaret Thatcher (prime minister of Great Britain), and Benazir Bhutto (prime minister of Pakistan).

The book ends with the rules for becoming president (two: an American citizen born in the US and at least 35 years of age), a timeline (very useful for placing the women profiled in the book in context of history), and sources.

One of the many great things about a book like this is that the profiles are brief, illustrated, and can be read indiviually rather than all at once. Who knows, maybe the next revision will be to add Hilary Clinton as the first woman president???

Monday, April 28, 2008

Not on the Test

If you are a teacher, this might not be your favorite time of year. Many are knee-deep in test preparation. This YouTube video for the song, "Not on the Test," written by Tom Chapin with John Forster, expresses their disappointment in the lack of arts education in public schools.

Thanks to Book Buds for the link.

Jane Addams Children's Book Awards Announced


The Escape of Oney Judge: Martha Washington’s Slave Finds Freedom, the winner in the Books for Younger Children Category, is written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully and published by Farrar Strauss Giroux. Mrs. Washington’s declares that young Oney is just like one of the Washington’s own children, but Oney is not fooled. On the night Mrs. Washington tells Oney she will not grant her freedom upon her death, Oney thinks quickly, acts courageously and flees. Expressive watercolors within this well-researched biography portray the bravery of Ona Maria Judge, an African-American woman who claimed, and fought for, the right to have “no mistress but herself.”

We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin by Larry Dane Brimner, published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc., is the winner in the Books for Older Children Category.Working behind the scenes because of his sexual orientation and unpopular political stands, African-American pacifist and civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, a trusted adviser to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Succinct prose, powerful quotations and fresh historical photographs place the story of Rustin’s life alongside the story of the March, revealing the breadth and depth of Rustin’s decades of commitment to confronting racism and promoting peace in the United States and in countries around the world.

One book has won honors in the Books for Younger Children Category.

One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War II, written and illustrated by Lita Judge is published by Hyperion Books for Children. After discovering one thousand yellowed foot tracings in her grandmother’s attic, Lita Judge wrote this tribute to her grandmother who had used these newspaper tracings to find appropriately-sized shoes to send to needy German families in the aftermath of World War II. A combination of paintings, collages of original photographs and reproductions of foot tracings underscore the message of compassion at the heart of this family story.

Three books have won honors in the Books for Older Children category.

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins, with illustrations by Jamie Hogan and published by Charlesbridge, is a contemporary novel set in Bangladesh. In clear prose and detailed black-and-white drawings, ten-year-old Naimi excels at painting alpanas, traditional designs created by Bangladeshi women and girls. Her talent, though valued by her family, cannot buy rice or pay back the loan on her father’s rickshaw as a son’s contribution would do. Determined to help financially, Naimi disguises herself as a boy and sparks surprising events that reveal an expanding world for herself and women in her community.

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc., is a sensitively-written historical novel infused with the spirit of youth. Eleven-year-old Elijah bursts with pride at being the first child born free in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves just across the border from Detroit. When a scoundrel steals money saved to buy an enslaved family’s freedom, Elijah impulsively pursues the thief into Michigan. The journey brings him face-to-face with the terrors of slavery, pushing him to act courageously and compassionately in the name of freedom.

Birmingham, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford is published by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc. Deftly-written free verse and expertly-chosen archival photographs lay open the horror of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing by telling the story in the voice of an imagined girl in the “year I turned ten.” Four memorial poems, each a tribute to one of the four girls murdered in the bombing, conclude this slim, powerful volume and carry its emphatic message: No More Birminghams!

Since 1953, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award annually acknowledges books published in the U.S. during the previous year. Books commended by the Award address themes or topics that engage children in thinking about peace, justice, world community, and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books also must meet conventional standards of literary and artistic excellence.

A national committee chooses winners and honor books for older and younger children. Members of the 2007 Jane Addams Children's Book Awards Committee are Susan C. Griffith, Chair (Mt. Pleasant, Michigan), Barbara Bair (Washington, D. C.), Ann Bower (Harwich, Massachusetts), Sonja Cherry-Paul (Yonkers, New York), Eliza T. Dresang (Tallahassee, Florida), Oralia Garza de Cortes (Pasadena, California), MJ Grande (Juneau, Alaska), Daisy Gutierrez (Houston, Texas), Margaret Jensen (Madison, Wisconsin), Jo Montie (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Sarah Park (Long Beach, California), Pat Wiser (Sewanee,Tennessee) and Junko Yokota (Skokie, Illinois). Regional reading and discussion groups participated with many of the committee members throughout the jury’s evaluation and selection process.

The 2008 Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards will be presented Friday, October 17th in New York City. Details about the award event and about securing winner and honor book seals are available from the Jane Addams Peace Association (JAPA). Contact JAPA Executive Director Linda B. Belle, 777 United Nations Plaza, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10017-3521; by phone 212-682-8830; and by e-mail

For additional information about the Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards and a complete list of books honored since 1953, see

Sunday, April 27, 2008

New Issue of the Journal of Children's Literature

Yippeee! I just received the Spring issue of The Journal of Children's Literature .

JCL is the journal of the Children's Literature Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English. It is only published twice annually, once in November and again in April, so each issue is a treasure!

This issue has a very nice balance between themed book lists (A Dozen Great Books), critical analysis, author interviews, and book reviews.

Table of Contents:

Multicultural Literature: Reading, Writing, and Responding Witin a "New" Literacy Context by Shirley B. Ernst and Janelle B. Mathis

Celebrating New York City in Children's Literature: CLA Workshop Brings NYC to Life by Lesley Colabucci

A Dozen Great Books: Unlikely Friendships by Deanna Day and Barbara A Ward

The Framed and the Framing in Flotsom by Sylvia Pantaleo

Back to Basic: Aesthetic Experiences with Literatue and Discovering the World by Kathleen C. Tice

An Endangered Relationship by Ann M. Trousdale

A Dozen Great Books: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, Spirit - Unique Relationships by Sharon Kane

From the Ocean's Flotsam, David Wiesner Imagines a Journey by Barbara Ward

Looking Closely at the Creative Process by Frank Serafini

The Invention of The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

A Dozen Great Books: Creating a Lifelong Relationship with Reading through Read Aloud by Carol Hanson Sibley

Read for You: Audio Review Poetry Aloud! by Nancy Roser with Susan Keehn and Mairam Martinez

Professional Book Reviews by Glenda Sloan and Patricia L. Scharar

Pretty good stuff, huh? A membership to the Children's Literature Assembly is only $30 or $15 for students. A very small price to pay for so much information and insight! An application form is available online.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Book Review: The Mysterious Universe

On this day in 1990, the Hubble Telescope was launched. Named after astronomer Edwin P. Hubble, "the Hubble Space Telescope is a large, space-based observatory which has revolutionized astronomy by providing unprecedented deep and clear views of the Universe, ranging from our own solar system to extremely remote fledgling galaxies forming not long after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago." Now in its sixteenth year of operation, it has had four servicing missions, with the fifth and final servicing mission set for August 28, 2008 which will further its continued success through the year 2013.

Edwin Hubble was the first astronomer to discover that the universe is expanding. A new book, The Mysterious Universe: Supernovae, Dark Energy, and Black Holes written by Ellen Jackson with photographs and illustrations by Nic Bishop (Houghton Mifflin, 2008), takes an in depth look at the expanding universe.

Following the format of other successful books in the Scientists In the Field series (Tarantula Scientist, Snake Scientist, Quest for the Tree Kangaroo, Looking for Life in the Universe) Jackson and Bishop follow Dr. Alex Fillippenko and his High-Z Supernova Search Team to Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii, where they will study space phenomena and look for supernovae, dying stars that explode with the power of billions of hydrogen bombs.

Long, long ago and far, far away, a huge explosion rocked a distant galaxy. Tonight, billions of years later, a few tiny bits of light from that event have finally reached Earth, where they've just left a telltale trace on astronomer Alex Filippenko's monitor.
"Wahoo!" he shouts. "We nailed it. We've got a Type 1a (One-A) supernova!"
He jumps up and gives everyone a high-five. Alex is a whirlwind, full of energy and always on the go. Maybe that's why he studies supernovae, some of the greatest explosions in the universe.

This opening scene from the first section of the book titled, A Blast from the Past, takes place in the Keck telescope control room in Waimea, Big Island, Hawaii. You can't help but get caught up in the excitement, which is what I really enjoy about all of the books in this series. Each book captures the passion and enthusiasm of the scientist featured ,which sheds a refreshing light on the stereotypical "boring" job of the scientist.

I especially enjoy how Jackson characterizes Alex as not only an academic, but as a multifaceted individual that kids (and everyone) can relate to:

Alex liked science even as a child. He once found a female spider and brought her inside, hiding her under the stairs. Soon the house was full of baby spiders. He brought magnets to school and played with them for hours, dragging them through the sand in the sandbox to pick up iron filings.
But, the school counselor didn't recognize him as a budding scientist. She thought Alex spent too much time with the magnets instead of with other children. "I don't know why she was concerned," says Alex. "I had friends. We used to play Red Rover together. I was really good at it." then he adds with a smile, "She also thought I ate too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."

Alex has also won awards for his unique teaching and research: "He uses music, balls, doughnuts, and even T-shirt diagrams to help explain astronomical ideas to his students" and on Halloween he dresses up as a black hole. Alex--who teaches at UC Berkeley--has been awarded Best Professor on Campus five times! On his free time, he likes to play tennis, hike, and boogie board.

Jackson weaves information explaining supernovae, black holes, and dark energy with Alex Filippenko's research and Nic Bishop's amazing photographs and illustrations resulting in a clearly written, understandable, interesting and enjoyable book that upper elementary and middle school kids will find fascinating and interesting.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Choice Literacy: A Great Resource

I have posted about many great online resources for children's literature on BlogJoy, so I want to be sure to point you to another site that is both a resource for children's literature and literacy: Choice Literacy. It is described as providing the ""how" of literacy leadership, written by colleagues who are just as smart, funny, and passionate about teaching reading and writing as you are." I find this a very apt description because the style of writing is very inviting and the contributors are practitioners who are also well known authors I feel like I know through their books and articles.

Choice Literacy is a subscription-based website that offers articles and DVD workshop kits for use in study groups and professional development, but each week they also post articles and links to other online resourse that are free (you can sign up here for a weekly update). For example:

Check out the "Free Samples" section of Choice Literacy for more great articles by well known experts in the field of literacy.

Friday, April 18, 2008


If you don't know about Lookybook, you're in for a real thrill! Lookybook allows you to look at picture books in their entirety—from cover to cover, at your own pace (click on the book above for and example). Have you ever wondered if you really want to buy a book when you've only seen the front cover online? Well, Lookybook is the solution to your problem. Lookybook currently features over 200 titles and their goal is to feature over 1000 titles by mid-2008.

Go ahead, check it out and see if it isn't the coolest thing since sliced bread!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day!

Thursday, April 17th is National Poem in Your Pocket Day! I thought I would share the poem that I'm keeping in my pocket for the day. It's from Naomi Shihab Nye's Honeybee (2008, HarperCollins).

I remember watching an interview with Jerry Seinfield about Bee Movie in which he remembered hearing that Albert Einstein once said, "If all the honeybees disappear, human beings have four years left on earth." I think this is an urban legend but in the introduction to Honeybee, Nye also acknowledges this alleged statement and expresses her concern over the plight of the honeybee: "So, I've been obsessed. This is what happens in life. Something takes over your mind for a while and you see other things through a new filter; in a changed light. I call my friends "honeybee" now, which I don't reecall doing before. If I see a lone bee hovering in a flower, I wish it well" (p. 8).

In eighty-two poems and paragraphs, Naomi Shihab Nye alights on the essentials of our time—our loved ones, our dense air, our wars, our memories, our planet—and leaves us feeling curiously sweeter and profoundly soothed.

Most of the poems and prose in Honeybee are about the political times in which we live: The United States Is Not the World, Campaigning Door to Door, Parents of Murdered Palestinian Boy Donate His Organs to Israelis, Letters My Prez is Not Sending, My President Went, etc. Nye does not choose an ambiguous path but lets her feelings about the war come through in a way that only poetry can convey. Though one may not agree with her perception of the war and its political and social ramifications, it is impossible to read these poems without feeling as if Nye is talking to you about the pain and hurt the war has caused her personally. Scattered throughout are her astute observations of honeybees and nature.

The poem I'm keeping in my pocket:


Dipping into the flower zone
Honey stomach plump with nectar

Soaking up directions
Finding our ways in the dark

Fat little pollen baskets
Plumping our legs

You had no idea, did you?
You kept talking about

That wheelbarrow
And chicken

Round dance
Waggle dance

Only 5 species of honeybee
Among 20,000 different bee species

Out there in the far field
Something has changed but

You don't know what it is yet
And everything depends

On us

---Naomi Shihab Nye, Honeybee

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Book review: Phillis's Big Test

Phillis's Big Test written by Catherine Clinton, illustrated by Sean Qualls and published by Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

In 1773, Phillis Wheatley became the first African American to publish a book of poetry. When she went to London to meet with literary admires, she became the most famous black person on both sides of the Atlantic.

Thus, the story of Phillis Wheatley begins. But, the story behind Phillis' success is really what Phillis' Big Test is all about. The story opens as Phillis is walking to the public hall where she will be examined by the most important men in the Massachusetts Bay Colony to prove she is actually the author of her poems. Clinton imagines what she might have thought about as she walked. She remembers arriving in Boston on a ship from Africa and that John Wheatley bought her as a servant for his wife Susanna. She learned to read and write English, Latin, and Greek from Nathaniel and Mary, the Wheatley's twin children. "Books had opened up a whole new world to Phillis, as she was taught literature and geography, as she memorized the names of cities and countries, lists of kings and queens, and dates of discoveries." However, it was poetry that inspired her the most. Here she reflects on why she wrote a book of poetry:

She was not content to recite her verse in drawing rooms or to read one of her poems from a newspaper. She wanted her own book because books would not last just a lifetime; they would be there for her children and her children's children.

Though Phillis is confident in her ability to defend her own work and has prepared extensively for the big test, she is nervous. The story ends when Phillis enters the large wooden door of the public hall: "Good day, gentlemen. I am the poet Phllis Wheatley."

An epilogue states that no record exists of Phillis Wheatley's examination, but we know she passed "with flying colors" since the eighteen examiners signed a document testifying to her authorship, which appeared in the back of her volume of poems. After going abroad to meet her literary patrons, she returned to America where she was freed by her master. Phillis Wheatley died in 1784 before her second book of poems could be published.

I enjoyed the story of Phillis Wheatley for several reasons. Clinton's writing style sets a formal, biographical tone yet allows the reader a glimpse of Phillis as someone who is passionate about reading and writing and how that passion changed her life and filled her hopes and dreams. Qualls's collages compliment Clinton's writing with straightforward illustrations that capture the tone and mood of the story with a palate of reds, blues, grays, browns, and black. You can see several pages of Sean Qualls's illustrations from Phillis's Big Test on his blog and read his commentary on the choices he made when illustrating the book. Very neat!

This is a great story to share with children during National Poetry Month. The only thing missing from the story are a few examples of Phillis's poetry. For that, you might check out A Poem of Her Own: Voices of American Women Yesterday and Today also written by Catherine Clinton and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn. Among the poets included are luminaries such as Phillis Wheatley, Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, and Sylvia Plath. Also featured are previously unpublished pieces by contemporary poets Julia Alvarez, Nikki Giovanni, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Marge Piercy.

Since Phillis's Big Test is only about the examination and doesn't really touch on other aspects of Phillis Wheatley's life, children might also be interested in learning more about her. For this, children might enjoy Phillis Wheatley: Slave and Poet by Robin Doak. In addition to the biography, it inlcudes a time line, source notes, additional resources, a glossary, an index and a bibliography.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Summer Activities

ReadWriteThink is a partnership between the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the Verizon Foundation. ReadWriteThink provides educators and students with access to quality practices and resources in reading and language arts instruction through free, online content.

Now ReadWriteThink has added a new dimension to its website: Learning Beyond the Classroom. The site activities for children ages 4 to 18 including booklists, reading logs, book review podcasts, and best practice videos to help caregivers and tutors make the most of summer reading and writing opportunities.

Research has repeatedly shown that children's learning regresses over the summer. Learning Beyond the Classroom can provide children, parents, and others with meaningful activities that can make summer reading fun. Teachers, tutors, and other caregivers can include the Learning Beyond the Classroom web address in an end-of-the-school-year newsletter or e-mail, or place the link on the school website.

Monday, April 7, 2008

National Drop Everything and Read Day

This Saturday, April 12th, is Beverly Cleary's Birthday--she will be 92 years young! In honor of her birthday, publisher HarperCollins and several national education related organizations (NEA, PTA, ASLC, and more) have declared April 12 as National Drop Everything and Read Day. This day is a special reading celebration to remind and encourage families to make reading together on a daily basis a family priority.

Though most of Beverly Cleary's books were written many years ago, they are still popular among children today, which is a sure sign of classic children's literature. Children can relate to characters such as Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ellen Tidbits, Otis Spotford, and Leigh Botts (Dear Mr. Henshaw). Last year, I worked with a group of third graders at a local elementary school and one of the books we read together was Ramona Quimby, Age 8. The kids loved Ramona's quirky personality and the antics she inevitably found herself a part of. My son enjoyed the Henry Huggins and Ribsy books, too. I also really enjoyed reading Bevery Cleary's memoirs, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet.

HarperCollins will send you a free Drop Everything and Read kit that includes a CD of an interview with Beverly Cleary (also available on the Reading Rockets website), a "Celebrate Reading Together" poster featuring Ramona, and serval sheets of stickers.

You may find D.E.A.R. events going on in your local community that you can join in, but you can also make it a day you celebrate in your classroom, library, or home. Read aloud one of Beverly Cleary's picturebooks: The Hullabaloo ABC, Petey's Bedtime Story, Lucky Chuck, The Growing-Up Feet, Janet's Thingamajigs, or Two Dog Biscuits, or read aloud a favorite section of one of your favorite chapter books. But most importanly, give children time to read Beverly Cleary's books on their own so the joy of her books will live on for many, many generations to come!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Take A Tour of BlogJoy: Repost for new subscribers

I love to travel. When my family and I are getting ready for a trip, the first thing we do is go to the local bookstore and buy a travel guide. We want to be sure not to miss a thing, since who knows when we'll be back that way again.

Unfortunately, there are no travel guides for the Internet super highway -- a vast interconnection of networked computers that can leave you wondering which way to go. That's why the book The Joy of Children's Literature includes lots of websites with information about children's literature and this post will familiarize you with the where, what, and why of BlogJoy. So let the tour begin!

The first link to your right under the title will let you subscribe to a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed to this blog. RSS is a popular technology for notifying users of updates to blog content in a reader. Click here for more information about using Google Reader.

The second link is to the website for The Joy of Children's Literature. The website has a link for instructors and students, both with additional resources for learning about children's literature.

Under the link to the website is a picture of me--my first professional picture since high school (yes, that long ago). All of the books in the picture are in The Joy of Children's Literature. You wouldn't believe how many trips it took to get all of those books in the studio!

The next section is titled Powerful Words... I love words and the craft of writing--I'm always looking for examples of beautiful, elegant, poignant, insightful ways authors use words when I'm reading--and when I find them, I'll post them. I also like to know what other people are reading, so underneath the Powerful Words section, I'll post what I'm currently reading (or the audiobook I'm listening to).

The last section on the left is a list of books in my library. The books rotate, so you'll see a different selection each time you visit BlogJoy. Pretty cool, huh? I wish I could take credit, but it is a feature of LibraryThing. LibraryThing is an online service that allows you to easily catalog your books so you, your friends, children, parents, or anyone can access your library from anywhere.

At the bottom is a feed from Reading Today, a service of the International Reading Association, that broadcasts the latest headlines involving literacy around the world. A great way to stay abreast of what's going on in the world of reading.

Well, that's the end of the tour. Let me know if you have ideas for things you would like to see on BlogJoy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Poem a Day from Random House Children's Books

For National Poetry Month, Random House Children's Books is send subscribers a poem a day via their email newsletter. Each weekly newsletter includes 5 poems for the week. The poem for Tuesday is from Schoolyard Rhymes written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Melissa Sweet:


Down, down, baby, down by the rollercoaster.
Sweet, sweet baby, I’ll never let you go.
Shimmy shimmy coca pop.
Shimmy, shimmy pow!
Shimmy shimmy coca pop.
Shimmy, shimmy pow!
Grandma, Grandma, sick in bed,
Called for the doctor and the doctor said,
“Let’s get the rhythm of the head, ding-dong!
Let’s get the rhythm of the head , ding-dong!
Let’s get the rhythm of the hands, clap, clap!
Let’s get the rhythm of the hands, clap, clap!
Let’s get the rhythm of the feet, stomp, stomp!
Let’s get the rhythm of the feet, stomp, stomp!”
Put it all together and what do you get?
Ding-dong, clap, clap, stomp, stomp.

-- Judy Sierra

A previous newsletter included a letter and activity from Judy Sierra with a theme from her soon to be released poetry book: Beastly Rhymes to Read After Dark. Enjoy!

Dear Teachers and Librarians,

I write poems that have rhythm and rhyme. I find that rhythm and rhyme are the best tools for creating funny poems, and funny poems are my specialty. Using rhythm and rhyme lets me work on a poem in my head while I’m doing other things like driving or cooking. Most of all, I use rhythm and rhyme to show kids that words and reading and writing are fun. With a little effort, anyone can write a good poem that others will enjoy.

I learned to write poetry by listening to poetry and reciting poetry. My parents read poems to me from the time I was a baby. When I was seven, my father began paying me a dollar for every poem I learned by heart. I thought I was going to become a millionaire! Eventually, he had to stop because I was spending all my free time memorizing poems, and he was running out of money. My favorites then were the poems in Alice in Wonderland, and in T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

Monster Reservoir, the last poem in my upcoming book Beastly Rhymes to Read After Dark , is an invitation to compose a poem. Kick off Poetry Month with children using the monster poem activity below . . .

The nice thing about writing a monster poem is that you can make up monster names to rhyme with real words. As a warm up, try writing a four-line poem about a nice monster who is misunderstood. (Hint: write the second line first).

Hello, my name is _____________.
When people see me, they__________.
They think I must be ___________,
But I am really ________________.

Try to make the first two lines rhyme, and the last two lines rhyme. As an extra challenge, give each line the same number of beats. Draw a picture to go with your poem. Have fun, and don’t
forget to revise!

Happy Poetry Month!
Judy Sierra

National Book Festival's Website

The National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress and hosted by First Lady Laura Bush, has been held annually on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., since 2001. It is free and open to the public.
Each year, dozens of authors present throughout the day in pavilions that are categorized according to the following: Children; Teens & Children; Fiction & Fantasy; Mysteries & Thrillers; History & Biography; Home & Family; and Poetry. For those who were unable to attend the festival or missed a pavilion, the authors’ presentation are available as webcasts on the festival homepage.

I've attended the National Book Festival for the past two years and it is truly a unique and exiting event. Last year, over 120,000 book lovers just like me attended the event. While my husband attended the Mysteries and Thrillers pavilion, you know where my son and I were...the Children's and Teens & Children's pavilions! It is my sincere hope that the new first lady (or husband?) will continue this wonderful program.

This year, a Young Readers' Toolkit has been added to the National Book Festival's website based on the children's/teen authors from the 2007 festival. The toolkit offers the following:

Meet the Author: provides a biography, the "scoop" (interview), and link to the webcast of the authors who presented at the 2007 festival:

Host Your Own NBF: provides a hosting guide with things to consider when preparing for your own National Book Festival. What a great idea!

Educators Share: provides link to festival photos, the Library of Congress blog, suggested reading lists, book awards, and curriculum standards.

Kids Create: provides writing topics as suggested by several of the festival's children's authors; a flashcard maker in which kids can type authors' names, books, or other information they want to remember and print out; and a printable bookmark.

Kids Achieve : this section provides links to other programs/contests for kids such as the Letters about Literature National Reading and Writing Promotional Program; the River of Words poetry and art contest; and the Poetry Outloud National Recitation Contest.

The webcasts alone are invaluable. Here are the children's/teen poets in honor of National Poetry Month:

Diane Ackerman

Jack Prelutsky

Judith Viorst

Walter Dean Myers

Pat Mora

Nikki Grimes

X.J. Kennedy

Janet Wong

Jane Yolen

Gary Soto

Naomi Nye

Take a few minutes to check out all of the great resources on the website for the National Book Festival!