Archive for the 'Poetry Friday' Category

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Douglas Florian and Diane Goode

h1 Friday, March 21st, 2014



“The boogie man is coming. / I can hear him in the night. /
He has chains he likes to rattle / when my mom turns out the light. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Above: A poem and drawing from Douglas Florian’s Poem Depot,
followed by a spread from Karma Wilson’s
Outside the Box,
illustrated by Diane Goode

This week at Kirkus, I’ve got two picture books all about moving — Liz Garton Scanlon’s The Good-Pie Party, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, and Rosemary Wells’s Stella’s Starliner. This is something my family needs to do—move into a slightly bigger space, that is—but it’s so stressful to think about, this ginormous task of schlepping all your stuff from one place to the next, that the subject quickly gets changed every time it comes up.

That’s to say: Moving is not for the faint of heart. In many ways, as these stories tell us.

Also, we don’t often see families who live in trailer homes in picture books, but we do in one of these.

That column is here this morning.

And since my column from last week, a tribute to Uncle Shelby himself, included mention of Douglas Florian’s Poem Depot: Aisles of Smiles (Dial, February 2014), as well as Karma Wilson’s Outside the Box: A Book of Poems (Margaret K. McElderry Books, March 2014), illustrated by Diane Goode, I’ve got some art from each today. (First up is one more spread from Outside the Box, followed by some more poems and drawings from Florian’s book.)

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week

h1 Friday, September 20th, 2013

I really have no idea how the voices in my books come to me. I’m not sure any writer does. Walter Dean Myers once said that when he has to explain how he came up with the idea of a certain book, he mostly makes stuff up, because the whole thing is a mystery to him. It’s a mystery to me, too! And everyone does it differently.”

That’s Joyce Sidman, pictured here. We chatted yesterday morning at Kirkus about several things including taking risks, how a poet turns off the noisy world for a while (including loud social media-type places), and collaborating once again with illustrator Pamela Zagarenski. We also talked about her newest poetry collection, What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings (Houghton Mifflin, October 2013). That chat is here.

This morning, I ended up writing an ode of a sort to author/illustrator John Burningham, who is one of my all-time favorite illustrators. Candlewick has released a new(ish) book of his, and if that “ish” confuses you, well … you can read more here.

Until Sunday …

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Photo used with permission of Joyce Sidman.

A Poetry Break

h1 Tuesday, January 15th, 2013


“At first you’ll joy to see the playful snow, /
Like white moths trembling on the tropic air, /
Or waters of the hills that softly flow /
Gracefully falling down a shining stair. …”
– From Claude McKay’s “To One Coming North”

(Click image to see spread in its entirety)

I’m preparing for two presentations about children’s literature this week, on top of my regular work, so I’m going to be brief today. I share some artwork here from Karen Barbour, rendered in watercolor, ink, and collage, from African American Poetry (January 2013, though technically the copyright date is 2012), the latest in Sterling’s Poetry for Young People series.

Edited by Arnold Rampersad (Stanford University) and Marcellus Blount (Columbia University), this is a collection of poetry celebrating the works of African Americans over the last two hundred years. Blount selected the poems, and Rampersad writes the informative introduction. There’s a wide range of poetry here from the likes of Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and many more well-known names, as well as some lesser-known poets. Each poem opens with an annotation, which includes biographical info.

As the Kirkus review notes, one interesting thing about this collection is that “[a]typically, the editors steer largely clear of explicit racial or religious themes in their selections,” with but a couple of exceptions.

See? I really was brief. For once. ‘Cause I really do have my work cut out for me this week. Here’s another piece of Karen’s artwork from the book. (Note: The final illustration as it appears in the book is slightly different from the one below.)

Until later … Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Steven Withrow

h1 Friday, November 4th, 2011

Banner for the PACYA site, created by Rob Dunlavey

Banner, created by Rob Dunlavey, for the site of
Poetry Advocates for Children & Young Adults

This morning over at Kirkus I shine the spotlight on Norton Juster’s new picture book, Neville, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. The link is here.

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Over at last week’s column, I asked writer, researcher, teacher, editor, producer/film-maker, and poet Steven Withrow in an abbreviated Q & A all about his new project, Poetry Advocates for Children & Young Adults, or PACYA. (As I noted at Kirkus last week, in the name of full disclosure I’m one of PACYA’s advisory board members, a follow-my-bliss, labor-of-love type of activity for sure. I’m happy to be a small part of the many efforts on this project.) The full interview is below. Enjoy.

Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Calef Brown

h1 Friday, June 17th, 2011


“The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea / In a beautiful pea green boat…”

This morning at Kirkus, I discuss two favorite summer picture book titles, Nina Crews’ The Neighborhood Sing-Along (Greenwillow, May 2011) and Meg Medina’s debut picture book title, Tía Isa Wants a Car (Candlewick, June 2011), illustrated by Claudio Muñoz. Nina Crews will be visiting 7-Imp next week for a breakfast interview, but first I take a look at her latest title (though her Jack and the Beanstalk comes out next month, and I’m looking forward to seeing that, too). The link is here this morning.

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Last week, I weighed in on Chronicle Books’ new picture book collection of Edward Lear’s nonsense poetry, as “masterminded” by Daniel Pinkwater (who visited 7-Imp here in 2009) and illustrated by Calef Brown (who visited with his elephant that same year).

That Kirkus link is here, if you missed it last week, and below are some spreads and early sketches from Calef. I thank him for sharing.

(Opening this post and pictured right are Brown’s renditions of Lear’s Owl and Pussycat. You may click on the illustration at the top of the post to see the entire spread from which each image comes, along with Lear’s poem, “The Owl and the Pussycat,” in its entirety.)

Enjoy.

Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week
(Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Nancy Doniger, Julie Paschkis, Chris Raschka, and Eugene Yelchin)

h1 Friday, April 8th, 2011

My Kirkus column for this week, which is at this link this morning, is all about the chapter book series Anna Hibiscus, published by Kane Miller Books. There are four titles thus far in the series, the latter two having been released just last month, and it wasn’t till these last two were released that I discovered the series as a whole. And I have to say: I can’t yawp about them loudly enough. They are entirely, without skipping a beat, enchanting. So, head on over there this morning if you’d like to read more about them. Next week, I’ll have some interior art from the series to share with you (as they are illustrated chapter books).

And, speaking of illustrations to share, at last week’s column I shared 3.1 new children’s poetry titles. (The “.1″ is all on account of how I only have 600-800 words to express myself over there, which I think is, ultimately, a good thing for me to learn. Economy of expression, that is.) This was all in celebration of the launch of National Poetry Month. If you’d like to read that column (and weigh in with any recommended poetry titles), it’s here. As promised, here are some illustrations from each of those titles (the one opening this post is from Bob Raczka’s Lemonade: And Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word, illustrated by Nancy Doniger, but more on that below), as a discussion of them without a sneak-peek at the art is downright TRAGICAL.

First up, Julie Paschkis’s illustrations (without the text) for Monica Brown’s stirring picture book biography, Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People (Henry Holt, March 2011). Sweet heavenly Chilean poets, I love me some Julie Paschkis art (as evidenced by the number of times she appears on this page of 7-Imp):


ONCE there was a little boy named Neftali, who loved wild things wildly and quiet things quietly. From the moment he could talk, Neftali surrounded himself with words that whirled and swirled, just like the river that ran near his home in Chile.”

Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week
(Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Eric Rohmann and a Sneak Peek at his Next Picture Book, Bone Dog)

h1 Friday, April 1st, 2011


“Cute? These mouselets were a hideous shade of pink, and their ribs showed.
They were not cute at all.”

With apologies to T.S. Eliot, April is not the cruellest month. At least not when you celebrate it with the Academy of American Poets.

Today marks the first day of National Poetry Month 2011, and—since I get inordinately excited about it every year—my Kirkus column today celebrates with three new children’s poetry titles I like, including one Honorable Mention (only thusly named, because I didn’t have enough space to talk about four). The column is here.

Pictured left is the 2011 National Poetry Month poster, designed by Stephen Doyle. Click here or on the image itself for more info. You will even see at that page a link to request a free poster. (Also: Check out how other children’s lit bloggers will be celebrating poetry all month.)

If you missed last week’s Kirkus column, I weighed in on Lois Lowry’s newest novel for children, Bless This Mouse, illustrated by Eric Rohmann, a short novel which made me wonder about genres and labels and how, specifically, this field categorizes books with Christian content, so if you have thoughts on the matter, please go weigh in. Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week
(Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring
Marilyn Singer, Alexandra Boiger, and Lee Wildish)

h1 Friday, March 18th, 2011

Dear readers, my Kirkus column for this week is up over at their site this morning. This time, I briefly cover Picture Books In Which the Parent Expresses Undying Love and Adoration to the Child, what I call, for lack of a better phrase, the love-you-forever-type books. (See how I tried to make it sound like a whole genre of picture books by Doing This? I’m a tremendous goober.) Specifically, I address the new Candlewick title from Ann Stott and illustrated by Matt Phelan. Go have a look, if you’re so inclined. I’d love any and all interested folks to weigh in on your favorite love-you-forever-type picture books for children. Which ones make you feel slightly (or wholly) nauseous? Which ones do you think get it right?

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And, if you missed last week’s column, it’s here. That’s my short Q&A with Marilyn Singer . . .

. . . in which she discusses her creative inspirations, her upcoming companion piece to Mirror Mirror, and her latest picture book, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. Here are some spreads below, and you can head over to the column to see the cover and read more… Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry/Haiku Thursday/Friday:
Cinnamon Geraniums and the Rainingest Rain

h1 Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Well, okay. Goofy post title, I know, but I haven’t had coffee yet. Not to mention I just couldn’t make up my mind. Today’s featured poetry anthology includes haiku—not just traditional poetry—and I’m going to post before Poetry Friday begins, so there ya go. Hence, my funky post title is what I’m trying to say. Anyway. I never promised to be coherent. (Did I?)


“Come with rain, O loud Southwester! / Bring the singer, bring the nester; /
Give the buried flower a dream; / Make the settled snow-bank steam…”

I love it when it rains. Really. I’m one of those chuckleheads who grins to herself when the forecast calls for days and days of it.

In July of this year, Charlesbridge released a poetry anthology dedicated to such days, One Big Rain: Poems for Rainy Days, compiled by Rita Gray and illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke, a title “well suited to a drizzly afternoon,” as Publishers Weekly wrote.

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Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast
# Oh-I’ve-Just-Stopped-Counting: J. Patrick Lewis

h1 Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

I’m sorry for the field of Economics, but happy for children’s literature, that J. Patrick Lewis, once upon a time, jumped careers. Yup, Lewis, who goes by Pat, was a Professor of Economics for thirty years — before devoting himself to full-time writing. I hate to use such a clichéd phrase (do authors roll their eyes at it?) but just have to introduce him by saying I think he’s a national treasure. Truly. If I’m counting correctly, he’s about to hit the 70 mark, as in he’s written almost 70 books, mostly poetry collections, for children. He’s been honored by the American Library Association and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and has established himself as one of this country’s most distinguished children’s poets and authors. He has earned wide acclaim for the vivid language (whether sophisticated and poignant or light-hearted and nonsensical) and lyrical writing of his poetry, written in a wide-range of styles and covering seven skerjillion (to be precise) subjects; his passion for visiting schools and working with children (“Getting children excited about the wonders of poetry—experiencing literature—is the reason I visit schools in the first place,” he writes at his site); and his work that consistently “respects the music of the written word” (also taken from his site). As Booklist once told it like it is, he is simply a “fine poet,” and School Library Journal once wrote, “no one is better at clever wordplay than Lewis.”

And BOY HOWDY have I wanted to have him visit 7-Imp for a long, long time now. And I enjoyed chatting with him so much that I’m going to get right to it. Not surprisingly, I’ve included as much art as I can in this post, including some spreads from two of his latest picture books. Enjoy. And I thank Pat for stopping by and having virtual coffee with me.

Read the rest of this entry �