7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #129: Featuring Charles R. Smith, Jr.

h1 August 23rd, 2009 by Eisha and Jules

Jules: Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, our weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.

Today, I’m pleased to welcome novelist and poet and photographer and biographer Charles R. Smith, Jr. As you can see here, Charles has written books for just about every age, including Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali, which received a 2008 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award, and which was illustrated by the very talented Bryan Collier (Candlewick, 2007). He also wrote last year’s The Mighty 12: Superheroes of Greek Myth, illustrated by P. Craig Russell, which I covered last year at Guys Lit Wire.

I picked up a copy of Charles’ latest illustrated title, My People, about a month ago; it sat on the “new books” shelf at my local library and gleamed at me from afar, calling me across the room. This is one gorgeous book. Released by Ginee Seo Books in January of this year, My People is Charles’ picture book adaptation of Langston Hughes’ famous 1923 poem of the same name:

The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people,
The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people,
Beautiful also is the sun,
Beautiful also are the souls of my people.

The book, met with all kinds of starred reviews, is what Publishers Weekly called “a tour de force” and School Library Journal, a “celebration of the particular and universal…{a} timely and timeless offering.” Each spread contains just a few words, the poem slowly emerging for the reader. Smith features on each spread his own photography, one or more African American faces captured dramatically in sepia portraits.

I asked Charles to tell us a bit about the book, and I thank him for sharing some spreads from it today:

“The simplicity in the poem, ‘My People,’ is what I wanted to focus on for the imagery. Since the poem is about the respect and love Langston Hughes has for his (black) people, I wanted to show a wide variety of faces, from skin as dark as night to skin as bright as the sun. I also wanted to show my appreciation and respect for my elders and included many older faces and played them against a few young faces. Making each of the subjects comfortable was key, because with a black background and my subject wearing all black, the only thing to focus on is the facial expressions.

The images I’ve included for you here include a few of my favorites. For the first two lines, I wanted to show someone with dark-as-night skin. Often the color black has negative connotations, so I wanted to change that with the second image showing the dark face, now lit up with a bright smile. Later on, an image of an older man with a wrinkled smile plays nicely against a newborn’s laugh. I have three kids myself, so I wanted to end with all of them expressing themselves in a very physical way.

As for new projects, I have a book coming out next year on Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, and am currently working on a biography of Jimi Hendrix. The first that pops into people’s heads for Jimi is how he died and the drugs and such, but people are going to see a side of him they never knew about — and kids, in particular, will be inspired, since he had quite a rough childhood but hung on to do what he loved. There’s always something in the fire with me, but Jimi is up to bat now.

Thanks for supporting my work and enjoy!”

Many thanks to Charles. I’ve always wanted him to stop by 7-Imp. For one really fabulous interview with him, don’t miss Kelly Fineman’s detailed Q & A from May 2008.

Note: Photographs © 2009 by Charles R. Smith, Jr. Reproduced with his permission. All rights reserved.

* * * eisha’s kicks * * *

Geez, what with one thing and another, I don’t think I’ve properly kicked for like three weeks. So I’ve got kind of a kick backlog. Where to start?

1* Well, kick #1 would have to be the birthday post Jules did for me last week. That was… okay, embarrassing, but hilariously so.

2* I also got lots of fun and fabulous presents and cards. I’m very lucky to have so many friends and family members who really get me.

3* My husband is home! After almost the entire summer designing sets in the Berkshires, and then a quick trip to Seoul, South Korea to meet with the production company he worked for last fall, he’s finally home for real.

4* And he took me to a yummy Italian restaurant for a belated birthday dinner.

5* Okay, I am really over all this heat and humidity. It’s gross. But I do have to admit, summer in Ithaca is pretty. The other day I was wandering around with my camera, taking pictures of the neighbors’ flowers, and a guy rode up on his bike while I was photographing his sunflowers, and said I was welcome to have one if I wanted it. Seriously, how sweet is that?

I get to walk by these every day.

6* I’ve read some truly beautiful books over the past couple of weeks, including The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (in preparation for leading a discussion group for Cornell’s New Student Reading Project) and I am One of You Forever by Fred Chappell (recommended by a friend, and oh my goodness why have I never read this guy before? SO GOOD).

7* Saturday morning I went to the farmer’s market and got… OKRA! Mind you, what passes for okra up here in New York is kinda pitiful – I swear some of those pods were only an inch long. But it fried up just fine. I also got some red potatoes (inside AND out!) and corn and some green tomatoes I’m going to fry later. Deeelicious.

7.5* I didn’t know Charles R. Smith, Jr. is a photographer too. Now I love him all the more.

* * * Jules’ kicks * * *

I can’t decide which of my first two kicks is the most supreme in kick-itude, so I’m going to count them both as Number Ones:

1). I saw my thirteen-year-old nephew in June. He had a girlfriend at the time. I told him I wanted to know ALL ABOUT HER and that she better have a good sense of humor, as that’s the most important thing in a mate. Evidently, he broke up with her recently. When his mother asked him about it, he cited as one reason: “Well, Aunt Julie says that a sense of humor is important, and she never really laughed.”

I positively cannot believe that he listened to me. Score.

#1 again). Jeremy sent me a copy of his Ice book. (Remember these beguiling photos?) It’s just about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever received in the mail.

2). Gran Torino.

Queen Lily3). My friend, Andrew, launching into the classic Lily Tomlin “Miss Sweeney” monologue about the second-grader who loves her new teacher (I think its official title might be “Tell Miss Sweeney Goodbye”) when I told him on the phone the other night that my oldest had started school. (I found it here—though, I swear, Andrew was able to recite 90% of it, which made me laugh very hard—but Lily’s rushed in that video, and the punchline gets cut off.) You just can’t beat the line, “I didn’t think of myself as the teacher’s pet. It’s just that I had nothing in common with a bunch of illiterate seven-year-olds.”

4). I think I’ve said this before, but…There is an Inman in my youngest’s Parents’ Day Out program. An Ada and an Inman. Get it? I love this. What are the chances of that happening ever again? Let’s hope they don’t grow up and fall in love. That’s just not gonna go well.

Okay, warning: These next two are all Mushy-Gushy Parental Kicks Probably Only Interesting To Me…But, Hey, Welcome to My World:

5). I put a simple “I love you” note in my kindergartener’s lunch box, and I didn’t think she’d think much of it, since I tell her I love her about every 7.7 seconds. It seemed to really make her day, and she hung the note on her bedroom door.

6). The three-year-old’s moments of courage this week. She’s having a hard time adjusting to her older sister being at school. I won’t go on and on about this, but I’ve seen her several times this week trying NOT to cry — when she really wanted to. It’s an all-new look that promptly breaks my heart right in half. And, in fact, she evidently stood in her Parents’ Day Out classroom after I left one day this week and cried while saying, “I’m trying not to cry.” Who says childhood is easy?

7). Look what John (“JES”) found!


This is a bit belated, but congratulations again to Laini and Jim! (That’s writer and artist Laini Taylor and her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, for those who aren’t familiar.) Words cannot express how much I love their beautiful new baby daughter’s name.

And congratulations to Mark and Andrea of Just One More Book for this feature at Quill & Quire. Well-deserved accolades, indeed. Mark and Andrea and their wonderful podcast are kickin’ in every way.

* * * * * * *

Not a kick, but a moment-of-silence of sorts: Rest in peace, Karla Kuskin, who died on Thursday at the age of 77.

* * * * * * *

What are YOUR kicks this week?

26 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #129: Featuring Charles R. Smith, Jr.”

  1. I am SO lovin’ those first two photos: The night is beautiful. What a beautiful smile! I had heard about My People and have been wanting to see it. Can’t wait for the Jimi Hendrix book!

    Love your sunflower, Eisha!! It kinda goes with “Beautiful also is the sun.” Glad you had a wonderful birthday.

    Poor Ada! Brave girl. Love the idea of putting notes in lunch boxes. We must never forget the small gestures that mean so much. Yay for Piper going to her first full days of Kindergarten!

    LOVE the Alice book sculpture. Thanks, Jes!!

    Just two kicks this week:

    *Clementine Pie. Red polka dot pj’s, the most adorable face ever, and beaming parents. Congrats to Jim and Laini. 🙂

    *Finally, after 15 grueling months of commuting to the West Coast every week, there’s been a positive change in DH’s job situation. This week will be the first time in ages that he’ll be able to stay home for more than 2 days in a row.

    Have a good week, everyone!

  2. I put My People on display whenever I notice it checked in at the library because the cover is just gorgeous. And how lovely are Smith’s three children dancing?

    eisha, Your Kick #7 reminds me of To Market, To Market by Anne Miranda and Janet Stevens.

    Jules, Go, you, giving good advice to your nephew! This is why it’s good for teenagers to have extended family around: they don’t listen to their parents, but they’ll often listen to the other adults, it seems.

    My kicks:
    1. I went to see Inglorious Basterds. I love that wonderful, snappy dialog, and there is a lot of good acting, a lot of I-can’t-stop-laughing moments. I wasn’t disappointed.
    2. I finished the outline for the online course I’ll be teaching this winter.
    3. I also got another job teaching a two-hour course on homeschooling right here in my own hometown. That will be fun and different.
    4. I finished reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I’m really enjoying revisiting those books.
    5. We’ve been working on finalizing our fall program schedule at the library, and I’m really excited about it. There’s a lot to look forward to.
    6. Yesterday, at the Farmer’s Market, I got some lemon cucumbers. I haven’t eaten one yet, but they are round and yellow and I just like the idea of them. I’ll be cutting into one later today.
    7. Yesterday, we went to Seabreeze, a local amusement park, and my godson rode his first roller coasters, which he loved. I loved being able to share that with him, since I can’t get enough of roller coasters, and I rode my first ones at Seabreeze as well. (Seabreeze, too, has one of the oldest coasters in the country, the very fun “Jack Rabbit,” so it was a bit of a history lesson, even.)

  3. Jama, I’m actually wondering if we’ve already seen that Alice sculpture before?? Seems like the kind of thing Little Willow would send our way. But at least I don’t remember it. Isn’t it great?

    Anyway, such FABULOUS news about your husband. YAY! Seven enthusiastic cheers for you both.

    Adrienne, you go with all your courses! I wish someone in middle TN would ask you to come teach here, but I know I say that every week. I might start my own library just so I can do that.

    Do you know I’ve never completed the Harry Potter series? I think I got stuck in Book 5, but now I kinda want to wait till I can read it aloud with my girls. Not too much longer maybe.

    I really love roller coasters more than words can say. I can’t wait till Ada’s ready for one. I think Piper will be a bit timid about them, but I could be wrong. Ada=daredevil, though.

  4. Wow! Those photos in My People. Gorgeous! On my list now.
    Eisha, so glad your bday was wonderful. The sunflower is lovely.
    Jules, hooray for the first week of school. I love d Grand Torino as well and I think more people need humor in their lives.
    Jama, such great husband news.
    Adrienne, my husband would love that roller coaster but not me. I went on the one at California Adventure and about died. My kicks:
    1. Oldest grandgirl and I went to the local county fair. What a blast with her and looking at the animals.
    2. Next oldest grandgirl and I made “magic cake” with zucchini. It turned into a chocolate cake.
    3. At the fair, I discovered that my “Duval Street Jazz” photo won first prize and “Judges’ Choice”.
    4. Headed back into school.
    5. Finally zucchinis and tomatoes are appearing in the garden.
    6. Trying to nap withan excited 3+ year old, and our two dogs. Was more of a rest.
    7. My poem was published on line this week. It’s been a great week.
    Have a good week, all.

  5. Just had to pop back in to congratulate Jone on getting her poem published and winning first prize for her photo! Yay! And I’m drooling about that magic cake with zucchini.

    Adrienne: lemon cucumbers have got me intrigued. And per your recommendation, must see Inglorious Basterds :D!

    Jules, I think Sara pointed out some of those book sculptures before.

  6. Zowie, those photos are something else. The idea of isolating the faces against black clothing and background could have backfired in a less talented photographer’s hands, but Smith clearly loves his subjects (words and people), and that shines out of the photos. And I’m SO glad to see that the publisher seems to have done a great job with the production of the book, too.

    Curiosity (you may not know the answers): Are these digital or film photos? If the latter, does he do his own darkroom work? And if he does, was the sepia toning a result of using particular paper, or some chemical process?

    (I think his choice to use sepia, vs. the more typical shades-of-gray, is one thing that makes these people’s faces so alive. I love B&W photography — doing and viewing. And sepia can too often be sort of a corny way just to make an otherwise humdrum image look old. But here, it actually seems to add a third dimension.)

    Before getting into the other kicks, while I’ve got jone’s before me: you do know that you’ve shirked, right? In a week when you tell us of a prize-winning photo AND an poem’s publication online, you’re supposed to provide us with LINKS to at least one! 🙂

    eisha: Dang, Za Za’s Cucina looks good. Can’t see everything at their site (some sort of problem with my Flash version or something), but what I can see wishes I had an excuse to take The Missus there. (Oh, I’ve got plenty of reasons to take her out to dinner — but no specific excuse to drive a thousand miles. “Keep the blindfold on, honey, we’re almost there, and you will be REALLY surprised!”)

    Jules, I meant to mention Gran Torino to you — at least here — a couple of weeks ago. It KILLED us. (Especially since we watched it following a 5-movie “Dirty Harry” festival.) I hope Clint Eastwood is still making movies when he’s 120 years old.

    And The Missus’s “niecelet,” as she calls Em, recently started grad school. Her undergrad major was elementary ed, but her grad major will be speech therapy — much to her parent’s (initial) consternation. Why the switch? “Aunt T— always told me she thinks I have so much vocal talent [which she does, btw] that I need to do something with it. This is it.” I loved that.

    jama: Great news about the domestic schedule change. That sort of thing can really get to you (the impersonal you, not YOU you) — when it’s over, it’s like the sun came out.

    adrienne, thanks so much for the Inglorious Basterds capsule review. (I haven’t seen it yet.) Seems the critics are less enthralled, but yours is the first I’ve read from a Real Person, and it’s good to know that at least one viewer seemed to think QT hasn’t lost his mind.

    Mine, in no particular order:

    1. The perverse, unsettling satisfaction of scaring the bejeezus out of one’s own characters and seeing what they do with it.

    2. Word-nerd stuff: I just read this week about a minor Chinese-language curiosity, starting with a light-switch panel with two switches labeled in English. One switch’s label says, “Ceiling.” The other says, “Smallpox.” Way past double-take territory here. You can read the background story at the where-have-you-been-all-my-life Language Log site.

    3. Revolutionary Road, which we just watched last night. Kate & Leo’s reunion movie nothing at all like their first (which — for me — was to emotion as 300 was to history, only not as much fun because you feel like such a heel for even bringing up the former).

    4. Zombie haiku.

    5. Seeing just a sun, no little raincloud-and-lightning-logo-thingy, on our local weather channel forecast for two straight days. I don’t even care whether it’s accurate or not.

    6. Female Big Band vocalists, including ones whose names I’d never known (like Kitty Kallen) even though I knew — thanks, Dad! — some of their performances (like “I’m Beginning to See the Light”) almost syllable-for-syllable and note-for-note.

    7. That little sliver of time on the way home from work most Friday evenings when you can’t wait to experience (a) what you know you’re going to do with the weekend, and (b) what you don’t yet know you’re going to do.

  7. Hi, thanks for sharing the gorgeous images from My People. Jama, so glad about family news. Always love to hear about notes treasured. And high hopes for nephew who listens to aunt and values humor. That seems a better reason than a twelve year old relative of mine who just got dumped from a very short relationship (maybe a day) and the girl said her mom said she’d had too many boyfriends that year.

  8. Oops. Sorry. I can give links to both. Photo here: http://deowriter.blogspot.com/2009/08/blog-post_18.html
    Poem in the monthly journal here: http://4and20poetry.com/.

  9. Gyah, I love Langston Hughes so much. And now I love Charles R. Smith, Jr. too. And wow, Charles’ children are amazingly beautiful.

    Eisha, I love okra! It’s like my favorite vegetable. I eat okra steamed and dipped in patis (salty Filipino fish sauce) and calamansi (Filipino lemon). *swoons*

    The Cornell New Student Reading Project sounds awesome! I wish I could participate in something like that.

    Jules, re: kicks 5 and 6: OMG!!! *tears in eyes*

    And that is so cool about your nephew. :o)

    Jama, yay for DH’s new job situation! :o)

    Adrienne, sounds like you have a great fall ahead. And you are so lucky to have gone to an amusement park lately. I love amusement parks but haven’t gone to one in such a long time.

    Jone, congratulations on your award-winning photo and published poem!!! *hug*

    JES, ooohhh, you are so right about that little sliver of time.

    My main kick this week:

    The Philippine taekwondo team participated in a second competition this past week, the Korean Open . . . and won two gold medals, one silver medal, and four bronze medals! Three of those bronze medals belong to my brothers. *does a little dance*

    The team comes home next week. They still have a week of intensive training left.

  10. Jone, rock. You are not only an award-winning photographer and published poet, but I have to say: You’re the best grandma (or “granny,” or whatever you go by). How’s the start of the school year going? …Thanks for the links. I look forward to seeing them in a minute.

    Jama, I knew I’d seen them somewhere.

    John, excellent questions for Charles. I hope he answers. That’d be interesting to read.

    Re Clint Eastwood: Me, too, John. That was such a fabulous movie. The shot at the end (that’s all I’ll say) when the light shines on his Zippo lighter, which has fallen from his hand? Brilliant. And, boy, did I choke back the tears then. ‘Cause, you know, I was watching it with my husband and cannot STAND crying in front of people during a movie.

    That’s a great story about the niecelet. …Oh, and we saw Revolutionary Road, too. Heartbreaking. Very fine acting.

    Hey, why have I never heard of Zombie Haiku? Must explore.

    Jeannine, Ha! Twelve-year-old? Oh my.

    Eisha, I forgot to say: Gorgeous sunflower photo.

  11. Tarie, we were online at the same time. Go, Tarie’s brothers! That is impressive. And, yeah, I loved John’s last kick, too, about That Sliver.

  12. Eisha, I had heard of okra before, but really had no idea what it was. Sounds interesting! Love the sunflower pic and the kind neighbour story.

    Lemon cucumbers sound cool, too, Adrienne. And I’m glad you’re getting good summer veggies too, Jone.

    Jules, I’m feel so sad for your youngest! This is where being the eldest definitely rocks. But how lovely that the sisters are close and feel the separation.

    JES, I’m completely with you on the happiness of seeing the little sun symbol on the weather forecast. I think they should lie sometimes and just stick more in.

    Congrats to your brother, Tarie!

    1. Last weekend we took advantage of nice summer weather and went camping in Norfolk. The site was on a farm, which meant we could wake to the sound of cows mooing, but was also close enough to a small town that we could walk to the cute local pub for dinner

    2. My favourite bit was sitting out under a clear sky with bats whizzing around overhead and the most stars I’ve seen since I moved here (generally it’s too cloudy or too much light pollution).

    3. We went on a lovely walk that was ostensibly to see the local river but also featured much gawking at the harvesting of wheat

    4. One of my friends is moving back to Switzerland (sniff) but we had a good night with pot luck dinner and cocktails one night

    5. I remembered I had a jar of dulche de leche in the cupboard and made alfajores for a friend’s birthday at work. I wasn’t super impressed but they were still yummy and looked pretty too

    6. A belated birthday present (pretty amber coloured flat discs strung on a necklace) was a lovely surprise yesterday

    7. The house is neat and tidy ready for Australian visitors tomorrow night!

  13. jone: (1) LOVE the photo. That was Duval Street in what city? (Sorry — can’t remember — someone here at 7-Imp is a N.O. native. You?) (2) The poem rocks! (For others, it’s on page 22 of this issue [PDF].) The last line yanked the rug out from under my feet — not at all a bad thing for a poem to do!

    Thanks so much for posting the links!

    Tarie, I’m continuing to love the Philippine taekwondo play-by-play we get here from you. (Especially when it all seems to end in medals.)

    Jules, re: the zombie haiku… I think my favorite page there is the one of “Fake Poet Zombie Haiku”: zombie-related haiku written in the manner of real poets. E.g., a la e.e. cummings:

    if anyone lived
    in this wretched how town (they)
    would be soon eaten.

  14. Thanks to Langston and 7-Imp for sharing those gorgeous photos – Look at those smiles! I love such honest, happy smiles.

    Welcome home, Eisha’s husband! Yay! 🙂

    Eisha: Sunflowers are beautiful. They are rooted versions of sunshine.

    Jules: Aw to your nephew. Aw to your daughters. Go, Lily Tomlin.

    JES: What a find. Thanks for sharing the link, JES and Jules. I love big band music. I would have loved being alive at the time that music was prevalent. I often say I should have been born in the 20s so I could have been performing on sound stages and in clubs in the 30s and 40s. If only I could have experienced that greatness, the musicals and the music, and sidestepped the sadness of the Great Depression and WWII.

    Welcome to the world, Clementine Pie! Congratulations to Laini and Jim.

    jama: Congrats to DH!

    adrienne: Congrats on your new teaching-about-homeschooling gig, and good luck on your fall programming and your winter course. Cucumbers are tasty treats. Hi to the munchkin.

    jone: Chocolate with zucchini sounds good. Congratulations on your first prize, the publication of your poem, and your re-enrollment! What a list of accomplishments!

    Tarie: Wahoo! They are really rocking those competitions. Hope they have a safe trip back.

    emmaco: Enjoy your visitors! I hope your moving friend has a safe move. You say wheat and I’m craving bread now. That with the sunflower seeds I want due to that gorgeous sunflower photo.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Receiving an email from a casting director on Monday who thought of me and booked me for background work on a project without an audition or anything of that nature. I was immensely flattered and immensely grateful.
    2) Filming! It was such a great day. I had so much fun. Some would say, “It was just background work – you didn’t have any lines,” but I think every person on set is important, and that any work which lets me be on a set makes me happy, and it offers the chance to learn more about goings-on and to make new connections, plus it’s an opportunity to be seen, both on set and (hopefully) on screen. It’s a promo for a TV show, but I don’t know when it will air, so I have to keep my eyes on that particular channel. Hope hope hope that I can be seen in the final cut.
    3) Rehearsals. We open in less than two weeks!
    4) Launching websites for new clients.
    5) Walking.
    6) Scheduling.
    7) Resolve.

  15. My favorite poem as a child was “I Too, Sing America” so I am loving this celebration of Langston Hughes’ poetry. Those photos are amazing! And Jules, thanks for sharing the link to Laini’s blog. Clementine Pie might be the most precious name I have ever heard (of course, I love the name Clementine because of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. I love the ideas of putting notes in lunchboxes, but Cy’s reading isn’t that great, so he wouldn’t recognize “I love you”. If I mentioned trucks, then he would rightaway.
    Eisha – a night out at an Italian restaurant sounds wonderful. Now I just need to find one around here – I don’t think Fazolis counts.
    Adrienne – Cy is really intrigued by rollercoasters right now, but I don’t think he would want to ride one. Hey Jules, maybe Cy and Piper can’t wait at the end while Ada and Ruby can loop-the-loop!!
    Jes – zombie haikus – I love it.
    Emmaco – nice to hear how much you are enjoying the English countryside. Have fun with your visitors.
    Little Willow – you have the most interesting things going on every week. I love to hear all about your life as an actor.

    My kicks this week:

    1) Despite a previous diagnosis, Cy does NOT have pneumonia, but rather a nasty viral infection that has settled in his chest. Now we just have to wait it out, but I am thinking the massive nap he is taking today (he is well into his third hour) can only help.
    2) The England cricket team winning back the Ashes from Australia.
    3) Usain Bolt. Is that fella even human? I am thinking Cylon myself.
    4) It’s official – I am now the Study Abroad Coordinator for Motlow State Community College. I’ll continue to be the Reference Librarian too, but it will fun to try and convince students to spend a summer abroad. India, Spain, South Africa anyone?
    5) Putting together a display celebrating Motlow’s 40th birthday and getting recognition from the president and VPs.
    6) Made from scratch citrus pound cake. I hope it tastes as good as it smells.
    7) Listening to Ruby singing “Baa Baa, Black Sheep” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. Too cute.
    Bonus kick:
    8) Reading “The Polar Express”, “Owl Moon” and “The Snowy Day” in August.

  16. Dang, my typing is awful today. I meant to say that Cy and Piper CAN wait at the end of the ride whilst the two daredevils take on the twists and turns.

  17. That sunflower is beautiful, and so is Charles R. Smith.

    This morning, my daughter asked where we were going, and I said (from the bedcovers), “We’ll see.” She asked, “Woolsee?” So, we made up a place called Woolsee where all sorts of wonderful things take place: swings for everyone, a play area with princesses, a cupcake stand… it goes on.

  18. Farida – Woolsee sounds wonderful. I see many trips there in your future.

  19. Thanks, all. That would be Duval Street in Key West, FL.

  20. Emmaco, What I Learned From You This Week: Alfajores. Mmm. I’ll take mine with a peanut butter filling, please. And what a good week you had. As always. You live a very rich life.

    John, thanks for sharing that. That’s priceless.

    Little Willow, I love honest, happy smiles, too. I also love big, loud bursts of laughter from people who are deaf, whom I have worked around a lot in my life. They are in no way affected, since they can’t hear their own laugh and regulate it in any phony way. I used to interpret for this fifty-year-old-or-so deaf man who had my favorite laugh ever. So boisterous. Like no other’s. One of those make-your-days kinds of laughs. Also, he looked like Mr. Clean.

    Little Willow, pleeeeease share the promo with us, either way. I mean, of course we want to see YOU in it, but even if you’re not there, we can watch and think, Little Willow was in that somewhere. I like “resolve” as a kick, too. Congrats on #1 and have fun with those upcoming rehearsals. The beginning of rehearsals is one of the best times. (I used to do theatre. Back in the day.)

    Zoe, that is also why I love the name Clementine. What a great movie that is. We used to call Piper “Miri Pi” (before she decided to go by her middle, and not her first, name), and it never occurred to me that it sounded like “pie,” too.

    Zoe, I like your roller coaster idea, but we could also just leave the kids with the husbands and ride the scariest ones ourselves!

    SO GLAD Cy doesn’t have pneumonia. I hope he feels better soon and that nasty infection goes away pronto. …Congrats on your new title! That sounds like great fun. Oh, and I had to look up Usain Bolt, but I’m glad I did.

    Farida, I just want to be a fly on the wall in your home one day. (Or actually BE there and have coffee with you and meet your daughter. Wait, that’d be better.)

  21. Zoe I will forgive you kick number 2 because of your kind wishes for my visitors

  22. jama, that’s wonderful news about the DH! I’m so pleased for both of you.

    adrienne, a.k.a. Miss Busy, you’ve got a lot of stuff going on this fall, and it all sounds very cool. Also, I’d never heard of lemon cucumbers but I’m generally a fan of anything involving the word “lemon.” Tell us how it turns out.

    jone, CONGRATULATIONS!!! That is a huge deal – or really, two huge deals. And I had chocolate zucchini bread twice in the past few weeks – so good!

    JES, oh, THANK YOU for the link to that photo. I was in tears over the smallpox switch. And I love your last kick, too – that is a magic kind of moment.

    Jeannine, that’s kind of a hilarious reason for breaking up with someone.

    Tarie, HOORAY for your (literally) ass-kicking brothers!

    emmaco, Oh. My. God. but alfajores sound ridiculous good. I wish I could send you fried okra – it is the pinnacle of southern American cuisine. Well, that and pecan pie.

    Little Willow, what a lovely description of sunflowers. Rooted sunshine, indeed! Congrats on scoring a job without even having to audition – clearly, you made an impression!

    Zoe, congrats on your new title! That’s a lot for one person to do, but it does sound like fun. And citrus pound cake – YUM.

    Farida, your daughter just kills me with that imagination of hers. She and Piper need to have a playdate.

  23. Jules, you’re most welcome. I got a little thrill being behind someone else’s kick for a change.

  24. That Charles R. Smith guy has nicely made up most of my Christmas list to the nephews. Lovely, lovely work. And a photographer too? *sigh*

    So many great kicks! I smashed my finger in a door last night so I won’t type long, but these are great to read!

  25. I’ve got to get me a book by Charles Smith!

    Eisha, glad your husband is back and that you had a great birthday.

    Jules, I really didn’t want to watch Gran Torino–but did because my husband wanted to. I thought it was a really good movie. My husband and I always put little notes, poems, and drawings in my daughter’s lunchbox. We put other things in it too on Halloween and April Fools Day. Her classmates often asked her: “What do you have in your lunchbox today, Sara?” Kids love stuff like that!

    Congratulations to Jone for getting her poem published!


    1. A grand week in Maine with fine weather–and wonderful company.

    2. A family party on Saturday.

    3. A great 45th high school reunion of Sunday. I was so happy because I was one of the organizers of the event.

    4. I received a request from an anthologist asking if he could use two of my poems for a special Poem in Your Pocket project.

    5. It seems the oppressive heat and humidity have passed–at least for the time being. The weather was beastly on Friday when we returned from Maine.

    6. Decided to go to the NCTE Convention in Philadelphia in November so I can attend the Poetry Party in honor of Lee Bennett Hopkins. Looking forward to seeing Janet Wong and J. Patrick Lewis again–and to meeting Rebecca Kai Dotlich and other poets who will be there.

    7. I haven’t been posting much lately at Wild Rose Reader, Political Verses, or Blue Rose Girls lately–but that’s because I’m having such a busy and fun-filled summer. The best one I’ve had in years!!

  26. […] I share art from the books mentioned in that column, but I’ve got two added-extras: Author Charles R. Smith Jr. visits briefly to talk some about Brick by Brick, and I’ve also got some woodcuts from Andrea […]

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