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Picture Book Poetry Collections!

Here are some picture book collections of poetry that I enjoy—I hope you do, too!

Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems
by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josse Masse
Another collection of ‘reverso’ poems in free verse with a fairytale theme, like Mirror, Mirror, each poem is paired with the same poem read in the ‘reverse’ direction. For example, For love, / give up your voice. / Don’t / think twice and Think twice! / Don’t / give up your voice / for love. A fun way of looking at poetry.

A Frog Inside My Hat
compiled by Fay Robinson, illustrated by Cyd Moore
This is a ‘First Book of Poems’ published in 1993. Authors old and new, from Edward Lear (There Was an Old Man With a Beard) and Robert Lewis Stevenson (Nest Eggs), to Nikki Giovanni (The Dragonfly) and Arnold Lobel (Although He Didn’t Like the Taste), the poems are simple concepts with large colorful illustrations.

Big, Bad and a little bit Scary, poems that bite back!
illustrated by Wade Zahares
This one is a collection of poems about animals that are just a bit scary that include poems by poets like Ogden Nash (The Panther), Mary Ann Hoberman (Lion) and Karla Kuskin (The Porcupine). Great rhythm and rhyme here, and illustrations that jump off the page!

Other picture book authors of poetry collections that I love to read are Heidi B. Roemer (Whose Nest is This?), Rebecca Kai Dotlich (When Riddles Come Rumbling: Poems to Ponder), and J. Patrick Lewis (Please Bury Me in the Library).

For authors of collections of poems with a theme, check out anything by Jack Prelutsky (The New Kid On the Block), Lee Bennett Hopkins, especially those for beginning readers (Good Rhymes, Good Times), Bruce Lansky (A Bad Case of the Giggles), and of course, Shel Silverstien (Where the Sidewalk Ends)!

If you’re a dog lover be sure to check out Name That Dog!, my book of poems about dogs and their names. And if you’re a parent looking for a book of poetry to read to your young child, take a look at my picture book From Dawn to Dreams, Poems for Busy Babies.

Poem in your Pocket Day is tomorrow, April 21st—don’t forget to tuck a poem in your pocket to share with others you meet!  Read More 
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Poetry Month and Picture Books in Verse



It’s Poetry Month once again, and I’ve been bringing home bags of rhyming picture books from the library! Here are some of my favorites, so far.

Bedtime at the Swamp
by Kristyn Crow, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan
A perfect 'read' for poetry month, or any time of year. "Splish splash rumba-rumba bim bam BOOM!" The fun rhythm and language in this 'scary' bedtime story will capture young readers' attention. Great illustrations, and a fun ending— with a mom after my own heart. This one is my new favorite picture book in verse!

The Cow Loves Cookies
by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Marcellus Hall
All of the animals on the farm love their own special food, even Cow. But what Cow loves to eat is not quite what you’d expect, because “the cow loves cookies!” Readers will enjoy the rhyme and rhythm in this book, and look forward to the punch line after each animal is fed their food. Find out ‘why’ Cow loves cookies so much, and what Farmer’s favorite food is, at the end of the story. Fun illustrations add to this great read-aloud picture book.

Goodnight, Ark
by Laura Sassi, illustrated by Jane Chapman
GOODNIGHT, ARK gives readers a close up look at Noah and the animals on the ark. "All Aboard!" Noah calls. That night, after Noah is in bed, the storm gets worse and the animals run to join Noah in his bed--until the skunks arrive. Read to find out how Noah gets them all back to sleep again. Well written rhyme and rhythm, and colorful illustrations.

Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum
by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
"Bubble gum, bubble gum, Chewy-gooey bubble gum..." Everyone gets stuck in the bubble gum on the road! What do they do when a big blue truck comes down the road right toward them? And how do they save themselves from the big-bottomed bear? A fun read for poetry month or any time.

Mortimer’s First Garden
by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Dan Andreasen
Another great book by Karma Wilson, and perfect for spring! This book is a combination of lyrical prose with rhyming verse. Little Mortimer Mouse loves sunflower seeds. Tired of brown, and longing to see some green after winter, he overhears the children talking about planting a garden. He's not sure he believes in the miracle that will change one seed into more seeds by putting it in the ground and covering it with dirt. But he gives it a try, and has faith. (If you love this book you'll also love Mortimer's Christmas Manger).

April—National Poetry Month— Writer or Reader, it’s a good time to get back in touch with poetry and rhyme in children’s books. If you enjoy books in verse, then you’ll want to follow the daily blog posts by authors, editors and agents on Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo. Sounds like a secret language? It’s just ‘code’ for Rhyming Picture Book Month!  Read More 
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Poem in Your Pocket Day!


Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day! On this day people in the United States select a poem, carry it with them and share it with others throughout the day. It’s not too late to join the fun!

What poem will you choose to share? Will it be one that you enjoyed as a child? A nursery rhyme? Something that you discovered as an adult? Will it be funny, romantic, or something to make you think? Maybe it will be one that a friend wrote, or that you wrote yourself. Or maybe you wrote an original poem, just for today!

How will you share it? Will you sneak your poem into someone’s lunch box, or into their coat pocket or under their pillow? You can pass a copy to friends that you see during the day. Be sure to have plenty of copies in your pocket! Maybe you’ll decide to hang a poem up on a public bulletin board. You can share on facebook or on your website. If you tweet, you can share by using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

Throughout history, poems have been stowed in pockets in a variety of ways, from the commonplace books of the Renaissance to the pocket-sized publications for Army soldiers in World War II.

Poem in Your Pocket day got its start in New York City. In 2002, the Office of the Mayor, in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education, initiated Poem in Your Pocket Day as part of the city's National Poetry Month celebration.

In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative national, encouraging individuals around the country to join in and channel their inner bard.

If you’re looking for a poem to share, or for some ideas on how to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day, visit the Poets.org website.

Then check out Reading Rockets where you’ll find videos of poets reading poetry, and other ideas for celebrating National Poetry month.

For some fun links to poetry for children, visit Jump into a Book.

My poem for today:

Fishing for a Bite

“I’m tired of worms,”
said the fish in the lake.
“I’d rather have
some chocolate cake,
a piece of cheese,
or, I suppose,
some ankles, knees,
or dirty toes!
So if you want
to get a bite,
just cast your legs
in the lake tonight!”

c Peggy Archer (not for use without permission of author)

What poem will you share today?  Read More 
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Celebrating National Poetry Month!

In less than two hours it will be April, and the beginning of National Poetry Month! Here are a few links to get you started.

Join Angie Karcher on her blogsite for RhyPiBoMo—Rhyming Picture Book Month. This is a month-long celebration of poetry and rhyming picture books. Enjoy blog posts from well-know poets as Jane Yolen, Lee Bennet Hopkins, Myra Reisberg and others. I feel honored to be a part of the list of guest bloggers for this event. My blog post will be featured on April 14th. During the month enjoy short lessons and writing prompts, and other resources. Register to be eligible for daily prizes. You can also join RhyPiBo Mo on facebook. Check out today's post with poet Lisa Wheeler!

Join the 30/30 Poetry Challenge 2014 and receive daily poetry writing prompts. Take the challenge to write 30 poems in 30 days.

Go to Irene Latham’s blogsite, Live Your Poem, to follow the 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem. What is it? A poem that travels daily from blog to blog, with each host adding a line. Watch as a poem grows from day one to the end of April.

Check out 30 Days/30 Poets with Greg Pinkus. 30 Days/30 Poets 2014 will feature two poems per day by well-known poets in a blast from the past.

National Poetry Month is a celebration of poetry first introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. It is celebrated every April in the United States and (since 1999) Canada. For information about National Poetry Month, go to Poets.org, the Academy of American Poets.

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To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme?

What works and what doesn’t work when writing a picture book in verse?

When researching on line for information about writing picture books in verse, I came across several very good articles. The three that I chose to highlight were posted by a children’s author, a children’s author/illustrator, and an independent publishing company.

To get the complete picture, you’ll need to click on the links to read the full articles. But here is a sampling of some reasons for rejection that I plucked from their articles.

--Common rhyme schemes can be stale
--Forced rhyme or near-rhyme can ruin a story
--The meter (or beat) is not spot-on
--Awkward word order for the sake of rhyme
--The rhymes don’t make sense
--The story doesn’t stand on its own without the rhymes; there should be a real story
--Rhyming books are difficult to translate into other languages

In her blog post, Why Do Editors Say Not to Write in Rhyme, children’s author Tara Lazar tells us “It’s not that editors don’t necessarily LIKE rhyme. It’s just that it is very difficult to do well.” She gives some reasons why editors reject rhyming picture books.

For some great insight into writing rhyming picture books, visit Tara’s blog, Writing for Kids (While Raising Them), and read her complete article, which also includes examples from successful picture books in rhyme.

In an article posted on her website, PJ Lyons gives readers some “parameters by which to judge picture book texts that tell a story in verse.” Lyons says, “Poetry is like music. You write it with a conscious ear to its sound, and use the tools of analysis if something doesn’t work to assess why.” Some of the points she makes apply to writing poetry as well.

Read the article on her website, Writing in Rhyme, to learn more about her paremeters for writing picture books in rhyme.

Nosy Crow is an independent company, which publishes children’s books and apps, and has published children’s books in rhyme. On their website, Kate tells us three things that editors look for in rhyming texts.

Read the complete article for an editor’s inside look at rhyming picture books at A View From the Crow’s Nest.

Some other great web resources on rhyming picture books are:

from CBI: The Fighting Bookworms, by Laura Backes
Writing in Rhyme
http://write4kids.com/rhyme.html

from Margot Finke on Harold Underdown's website
How to Write a Picture Book with Fabulous "R & M"
http://www.underdown.org/mf-rhyme-and-meter.htm

from Tracy Preston Cook
Rhyme = Rejection Letter? Rhyming Children’s Picture Books
http://traceyprestoncook.com/?p=123

from Tamsom Weston Books
Rhyming Picture Books Aren’t So Scary
www.tamsonweston.com/blog/rhyming-picture-books-arent-so-scary

In her picture books about nature, Donna Bateman’s rhythm and rhyme add so much to the book (See an interview with Donna in my previous post)! Here are some other rhyming picture books that I enjoyed:

GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, Chronicle Books LLC 2011.
First line: “Down in the big construction site,/ The tough trucks work with all their might…”
At sunset, when their work is done for the day, a crane truck, a cement mixer, and other pieces of construction equipment make their way to their resting places and go to sleep.

BEAR SNORES ON, by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman, Margaret K. McElderry Books 2002.
First line: “In a cave in the woods,/ in his deep, dark lair,/ through the long, cold winter/ sleeps a great brown bear.”
On a cold winter night many animals gather to party in the cave of a sleeping bear, who then awakes and protests that he has missed the food and the fun.

HUSH! A Thai Lullaby, by Minfong Ho, illustrated by Holly Meade, Orchard Books 1996.
First lines: “Hush! Who’s that weeping in the wind? Wee-wee, Wee-wee,/ A small mosquito.”
A lullaby which asks animals such as a lizard, monkey, and water buffalo to be quiet and not disturb the sleeping baby.

THIS LITTLE CHICK, written and illustrated by John Lawrence, Candlewick Press 2002.
First line: “This little chick from over the way/ went to play with the pigs one day./ And what do you think they heard him say?”
A little chick shows that he can make the sounds of the animals in his neighborhood.

BINK AND SLINKY’S ARK ADVENTURE, is a new picture book written by my friend, Donna Arlynn Frisinger, and illustrated by Monica Gutierrez, Standard Publishing 2013.
First line: “What is this strange message two groovy snails found/ at the Garden of Chewies, in slime on the ground?”
Two small snails overcome obstacles and, with the help of others along the way, find their way to the ark before it’s too late.

If you have a favorite picture book in rhyme, feel free to let us know in your comments here!  Read More 
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Exploring Poetry Forms


There are so many types of poems to explore! In my interview with Judith L. Roth on Wednesday (see my previous post), I asked her about the sonnet in her book. I didn’t realize that there was an English sonnet and an Italian sonnet (I learn a lot when I blog!).

According to Allan Wolf in his book, IMMERSED IN VERSE, a sonnet is a form of closed poetry. Wolf says, "No matter who writes a sonnet, as long as the poet follows the rules, the end result will look" the same on the page. He says writing the closed form poem “requires you to use your right brain—the creative side—to explore your subject while you use your left brain—the logical side—to follow the form’s rules properly.”

Another book for students on poetry that focuses on “writing poetry, not analyzing it,” is Ralph Fletcher’s POETRY MATTERS. I love this book. It’s very encouraging and helpful. The book includes examples of poems, many written by students. There are interviews and advice from well known children’s poets, including Kristine O’Connell George, Janet S. Wong, and J. Patrick Lewis. At the end is a list of recommended poetry books.

Sometimes you find advice or information about writing poetry in unexpected places. Another favorite book of mine is LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech. The teacher’s edition includes a 16-page teacher’s guide with tips on teaching poetry, poetry terms and concepts, writing activities and more.

If you’re like me, and didn’t really get into classic poetry in school (my focus was more left brain at that time, since I was planning a career in nursing), a good book to explore is AN INVITATION TO POETRY, edited by Robert Pinsky and Maggie Dietz. This book is a collection of 200 poems written by poets such as Robert Browning, E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, Longfellow, Walt Whitman and many more, chosen by American readers. It’s accompanied by a DVD featuring readings of many of the poems in the book, which are introduced by people from across the United States who talk about their connection to the poem.

I find myself wanting to re-read these and other books on my bookshelf! And maybe I’ll try some different forms of poetry myself.

Leave your comment here for your chance to win one of my poetry books for children! Read more about the giveaway on the left side of the page.  Read More 
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Wednesday Interview with Judith L. Roth, Children's Author and Poet


Judith L. Roth is a children’s author and poet. Her poetry has appeared in more than a dozen magazines, and together with her husband, she's had over 50 children's songs published.

Her newest book, SERENDIPITY & ME, is a middle-grade novel-in-verse. School Library Journal said of this book: "This is a compassionately told tale, reminiscent in tone of Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia (HarperCollins, 1977) and Cynthia Rylant’s Missing May (Orchard, 1991)." SERENDIPITY & ME was released by Viking in February 2013.

Welcome, Judy! Thank you for joining us during poetry month! You and I have been friends and have shared many critiques in the past. You have such a beautiful way with words, and I’m so happy to be able to share you and your work here!

At what age did you begin to have an interest in writing poetry?
I started writing four-line rhyming poems when I was about 8. By the time I was in junior high, I’d moved on to free verse. In high school, I spent all of geometry class writing poetry. And yes, I almost did fail that class, but I was brought back from the brink. In a high school creative writing class, I learned how to write my favorite form of structured poetry, the Italian sonnet.

Do your poems come easy for you, or do you spend a lot of time writing a poem?
Free verse poetry is the most natural form of writing for me. I spend the most time of poem-writing on the little word tweaks. But that’s fun, too. The hardest parts for me in a novel-in-verse are plotting and putting in more detail.

SERENDIPITY & ME is your first novel-in-verse. Judy, I know that you love cats, but was there anything in particular that inspired you to write this book?
I don’t really know where this book came from. It started as a picture book of poems. The voice of Sara just came out. I think there were 17 poems, and that seemed like enough of a story to me. But an editor said she thought I had more to say about this father and daughter, and it ended up that I did (when prodded). The setting is from my college years where I hid a cat in the dorm. Since I went to college in Central California (Fresno Pacific), it seemed natural to put Sara and her father there as well.

Did you need to do any research when writing this book?
I had to learn a lot about Peter Pan (the book) and Sara Teasdale (the poet). I started off just learning about them online, but found soon enough that I needed the actual books in my hands. That fed right into my book addiction and collection. I found a great copy of “Love Songs” by Sara Teasdale online, a 1926 edition. So cool.

What can you tell us about the revision process once your book was accepted?
There was so much more to it than I expected. The first words I heard were, “since you’ve already done the heavy lifting, the revision won’t be too difficult.” Then there were four single-space pages of revision notes. After those revisions were made, I got another four single-space pages of revision notes. After those revisions were made….ad infinitum, it seemed. But there was a publishing deadline, so at some point it was deemed ready to go to copyediting. Which brought up another slew of corrections, revisions, and appraisals. I am amazed at all the work that goes into a novel after it’s been accepted. And the number of people who are involved in making sure it’s as good as it can be. It’s a little overwhelming, but very satisfying.

Most of your book is written in free verse, but the voice of Sara's mother comes through in other forms, like the sonnet on page 274. What can you tell us about this particular poem?
This poem didn’t end up in the novel until the end of the revision process. It’s the first poem of mine that was ever accepted, but it never got published because of the death of the publisher. So it is finally published, 33 years after that first acceptance. I think the editor wanted the mother’s poetry to be more grown-up, so I put in a structured poem.

Why do you write sonnets using the Italian rather than the English (Shakespearean) form?
I like the rhyme scheme better. The couplet at the end of English sonnets sounds too artificial to me. Although I feel like I’m using the Italian sonnet’s structure, I have to admit that I don’t pay much attention to the iamabic part of the iambic pentameter. So I guess I don’t follow the Italian sonnet’s rules all the way. I’m such a rebel.

For myself, and any readers who might not know, what is the difference between the English sonnet and the Italian sonnet?
The rhyme scheme of the English sonnet is ababcdcdefefgg. The rhyme scheme of the Italian sonnet is abbaabbacdecde. I believe they both usually use imabic pentameter, but I basically follow this by simply making sure there are 10 syllables (and only 10 syllables) in each of the 14 lines.

Do you work with an agent? What is that experience like?
My agent is Stephen Fraser. He was first an interested editor, then moved into the agenting business. After being in charge of my own submissions for so long, it’s a little hard to let go. But it’s great to have someone on your side, cheering you on, who can actually get heard by big publishers.

How did you come up with the title for your book?
The father in the book says of the arrival of the kitten when Sara is upset, “Serendipity, Sara. Someone’s brought you a blessing for a visit.” When I played with the word, I got Serendipkitty. But I didn’t like the sound at the end of that. Another writer said it ought to be Serendipikitty, which fixed that. Serendipikitty was the title until the very end of the time it was being edited. Then the marketing people at Viking said that title was too difficult to pronounce, so my editor suggested I change the name of the kitten from Marshmallow to Serendipity, and rename the title Serendipity & Me.

Your other books for children were picture books. What are the differences in writing a MG novel from writing a picture book? Which do you enjoy the most?
Small canvas to humongous canvas. There are different aspects of both that I enjoy. With novels, I miss having the lovely illustrations of a picture book and the relative ease in writing and revising. The simplicity of a picture book is satisfying to me. It’s hard to maintain focus on the large projects that novels are. But it’s wonderful to get so deep into a layered project—there are so many things in a novel to figure out, threads to unravel, facts to learn. I can’t say I enjoy one more than the other.

What advice can you give to aspiring children’s writers/poets?
If you’re doing it to make a living, run away as fast as you can! If you’re doing it because you can’t ‘not’ do it, you’re in the right place. Find like-minded people to share the journey with you. Celebrate the small victories. Find joy in words and stories.

What are you reading now?
I just finished reading Heft, by Liz Moore. So good. She is an amazing writer. Not only was the story wonderful, but the voice and craft were superb. Something to aspire to.

What are you working on now?
I’m writing another MG novel, but this one is not contemporary, not poetry, not first person. It’s about three young teens in the 1850’s who are each isolated for different reasons and who come together for a short time as they try to help one of the three escape. Now that I think about it, it does begin with a sonnet. The first line starts, "One night, a long time ago, three prayers went up to heaven….”

A very beautiful, poetic first line! Do you do author visits, and if so, how can you be reached about that?
Yes, I do. I can be reached at my website or my email, which is mjbcroth@frontier.com.

Thank you for giving us an inside look into your writing life, Judy!

Judy lives in Elkhart, IN with her husband and three cats. You can find out more about Judy on her website at http://judithlroth.wordpress.com/.

SERENDIPITY & ME: ISBN #978-0-670-01440-8  Read More 
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Poem in Your Pocket Day, April 18th


“Throughout history, poems have been stowed in pockets in a variety of ways, from the commonplace books of the Renaissance to the pocket-sized publications for Army soldiers in World War II.

A Heads up! This Thursday, April 18th, is National Poem in your Pocket Day!
In 2002 the city of New York initiated Poem in Your Pocket Day as part of the city’s National Poetry Month celebration. In 2008 the Academy of American Poets took the idea nationwide.

“The idea is simple: select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends. You can also share your poem selection on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem.” –from the Academy of American Poets website.

Visit the Academy’s website above to see some ideas for celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day!

You can celebrate by leaving the title and author of your favorite poem in the comments here on my blog on Thursday. Plus, anyone who leaves a comment on my blog during poetry month will be entered to win one of my children's poetry books, NAME THAT DOG!, and FROM DAWN TO DREAMS, on April 30th! See guidelines for the “book giveaway” on the left side of this blog.

Don’t forget to come back this Wednesday, April 17th, when I’ll be posting an interview with children’s author and poet, Judith L. Roth! Judy’s middle grade novel-in-verse, SERENDIPITY & ME, was released from Viking in February.

Oh, and if you’d like to read an interview with me, go to Judy’s website. Thanks Judy!  Read More 
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