A blog for kids (and their parents) who love books, words, and dreaming big...
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Monday, April 30, 2012

Have you seen spring trees?

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

An excerpt:

Have you seen spring trees?
Budding, bursting, blooming trees!
Yellow, pink, and green trees!
Sticky, dripping sap trees,
dropping seeds and popping leaves.
Singing birds in nesting trees.
Bugs in the bark of the
spring green trees!

~ from Have You Seen Trees?
written by Joanne Oppenheim

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Extraordinary Joys

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"It's the poet inside of me 
who knows how to live.  
It's the poet inside of me 
who is wide awake, 
and ready to embrace 
the beauty, the challenges, 
and the mysteries in life.  
It's the poet inside of me 
who celebrates living 
on a daily basis, 
and finds 
extraordinary joys 
in very ordinary moments." 

~ Kalli Dakos in Seeing the Blue Between

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ping-Pong Poem

Photo courtesy of

Ping-Pong Poem

Like a 

~ Douglas Florian, 
Bing, Bang, Boing

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fun Books for New Readers

Ben, reading with some friends, April 2012

As part of his Kindergarten homework, Ben is supposed to read out loud for at least 15 minutes after school every day.  Luckily, this has not been a struggle -- he loves to read, and can often be found with a book or two, even when it's not homework time.  We own a few "easy readers", and always bring several home whenever we visit the library, too.  I thought I'd share some of the books that Ben's read to me recently.  Some of these are actually marketed as books for beginning readers.  Others are not, but they use simple language.  All of them are also great stories for parents and others to read aloud to those who aren't reading on their own yet.

Snug House, Bug House, written by Susan Schade and illustrated by Jon Buller, 1994... A group of bugs find a tennis ball and turn it into a cozy home for all of them.  Short phrases and rhymes make this a fun book for all ages.

Moongame, written and illustrated by Frank Asch, 1984...  When Bear learns to play hide-and-seek, he decides to play the game with the moon.  Asch uses simple words and sentences to tell this gentle story.  This used to be one of my daughter Emmalie's favorite books, and she would beg to hear it again and again at bedtime!

Cars Galore, written by Peter Stein and illustrated by Bob Staake, 2011...  Ben found this book at the library, and couldn't wait to read it!  With its rhythmic verse and whimsical illustrations, this is an entertaining book for everyone -- but especially for vehicle enthusiasts like Ben.

Go to Bed, Monster!, written by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz, 2007...  Lucy does not want to go to bed -- she wants to draw.  But when she creates Monster with her crayons, all he wants to do is play.  When Lucy finally gets tired, she must figure out a way to get Monster to go to bed.  Ben and I both loved this silly, imaginative book!

Sir Small and the Dragonfly, written by Jane O'Connor and illustrated by John O'Brien, 1988... In the land of Pee Wee, no one is taller than a toothpick.  When Lady Teena is captured by a dragonfly, the brave Sir Small and his trusty ant ride off to find and rescue her.  I remember hearing this book for the first time many years ago, when Emmalie was learning to read.  I found it to be a funny, clever story back then, and it still makes me smile today.

The Cat in the Hat, written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss, 1957... The Cat in the Hat knows all kinds of fun games to play when it's cold and wet outside.  Unfortunately, his games -- and his friends Thing One and Thing Two -- create a huge mess in the house... and Mother will be home soon.  I had a copy of this book when I was a little girl, and I loved reading it with my parents. Filled with Dr. Seuss' distinctive rhymes and zaniness, this book is truly a classic!

The rest of these are short chapter books:

Frog and Toad Are Friends, written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel, 1970... Frog and Toad are the best of friends, and they do everything together, from swimming to telling stories to searching for lost buttons. Lobel created a series of books about these two that also includes Frog and Toad Together (1972), Frog and Toad All Year (1976), and Days With Frog and Toad (1979).  Each one is a delightful, humorous tale of friendship that will resonate with children and adults alike.

Houndsley and Catina, written by James Howe and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay, 2007... The first in a series of four books about this dog and cat pair, this chapter book begins with Catina wanting to become a famous writer.  The only problem is, the book she wrote is terrible.  Meanwhile, her friend Houndsley loves to cook and enters a cooking contest.  In the end, the two realize that friendship is more important -- and more fulfilling -- than being famous.  We haven't read the other volumes in the series yet, but Ben and I really enjoyed the light comedy and cute illustrations in this one.

Poppleton and Friends, written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Mark Teague, 1998... Through a sequence of silly events, Poppleton the pig, Hudson the mouse, and Cherry Sue the llama learn that friends are the secret to a long, happy life.  When we checked this out from the library, I didn't realize that it was the second book in a series of eight.  We haven't read the others yet, but plan to look for them next time!

What are some of your favorite "easy readers"?  Ben and I would love suggestions for new books to try!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Life distilled.

Image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"Poetry is life distilled."  

~ Gwendolyn Brooks

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


There's an old saying, "You learn something new every day." Well, here is one of the things that I learned today: there is a name for someone who is learning the letters of the alphabet -- he or she is an abecedarian [ey-bee-see-dair-ee-uhn]. This word can also mean "a beginner in any field of learning".

The term means something a little different in the world of poetry. An abecedarian poem is an alphabetic acrostic poem, meaning the first letters of each line make up the alphabet, from A to Z. It is an ancient poetic form, and can even be found in the Old Testament of the Bible. (Of course, the poems in there were written using the Hebrew alphabet.) I went looking for some examples online, and came across these Astounding Abecedarian Poems, written by school children in Kentucky. Here's one I especially liked:


A school
Class is fun
Do your best
Fun to learn
Good teacher
Hard work
I love school
Jumping jacks
Kids learning
Lots of learning
Math and learning
Nice work done
Obey the rules
People help support the school
Quiet reading at school
Reading in the school library
Smart teacher
Teachers are great people
Up the grades go at school
Very fun learning
Work is fun
X-cellent work
You can have an education
Zealous people at school

~Justina J.

I don't think I've ever written an abecedarian poem before.  I decided to give it a try, and had a lot of fun with it!  Here's what I came up with:

Spring in Bloom

Columbine, and
Daffodils --
Each sway in line.
Forsythia next to my
Garden plot of grape
Hyacinths – I've quite a lot!
Irises, I have them, too –
Just my favorite
Kind, all blue.
Lilacs love the
Month of May,
Pass this way.
Queen Anne’s Lace,
Roses, wild,
Sashay in the breeze so mild.
Underneath the eaves, and
Violets peeking through their leaves.
Wisteria climbs ‘round the door,
X marks the spot where I’ll plant more.
Yesterday I sowed some seeds.  Soon I’ll have
Zinnias where once grew weeds.

~Janelle H.

How about you?  Are you up for an abecedarian poem challenge?  Pick a subject -- any subject at all -- and then try writing a line for each letter of the alphabet.  (And then... please...  share your poem with me!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Poets Go Wishing

Emmalie fishing in the BWCA, 2010

Poets Go Wishing

Poets go fishing
with buckets
of words,
and wishing.

Using a line
that's loose or tight
(Maybe this time
a rhyme is right.)

the words till they
the feeling the poet is
trying to

~ Lilian Moore

Monday, April 23, 2012

Author/Illustrator Index V-W-X-Y-Z

A-B-C  D-E-F  G-H-I  J-K-L  M-N-O  P-Q-R  S-T-U

Vagin, Vladimir
Vainio, Pirkko
Van Allsburg, Chris
VanDerwater, Amy Ludwig
Van Dusen, Chris
Van Laan, Nancy
Van Leer, Samantha
Van Leeuwen, Jean
Viorst, Judith
Vojtech, Anna
Vonnegut, Kurt
Waldman, Neil
Waldron, Kevin
Wallenfels, Stephen
Walker, Alice
Walker, Anna
Wallace, Daisy
Walsh, Pat (author)
Walsh, Pat (editor and author)
Ward, Cindy
Ward, Rachel
Watt, Melanie
Watts, Mabel
Weber, Jill
Weidner, Teri L.
Wells, Rosemary
Whitman, Walt
Whyte, Mary
Widener, Terry
Wiesner, David
Wiesner, William
Wiggin, Kate Douglas
Wilde, Oscar
Wilder, Laura Ingalls
Wilkes, Angela
Williams, Garth
Willson, Dixie
Wilson, Karma
Winship, Florence Sarah
Winters, Kay
Withers, Carl
Worline, Bonnie Bess
Zollars, Jaime
Zolotow, Charlotte
Zubizarreta, Rosalma
Zusak, Markus
A-B-C  D-E-F  G-H-I  J-K-L  M-N-O  P-Q-R  S-T-U

Author/Illustrator Index S-T-U

A-B-C  D-E-F  G-H-I  J-K-L  M-N-O  P-Q-R  V-W-X-Y-Z

Sabuda, Robert
Safire, William
Sagan, Carl
Salas, Laura Purdie
Salten, Felix
Sambuchino, Chuck
Samuels, Barbara
Sandburg, Carl
Scanlon, Liz Garton
Scarry, Richard
Schade, Susan
Schimmel, Schimm
Schindler, S.D.
Schlossberg, Elisabeth
Schmeltz, Susan Alton
Schmidt, Gary D.
Schnur, Steven
Sciezka, Jon
Segovia, Carmen
Setoun, Gabriel
Seuss, Dr.
Shahan, Sherry
Shakespeare, William
Sidman, Joyce
Sidney, Margaret
Sierra, Judy
Sill, Cathryn
Sill, John
Silverstein, Shel
Simic, Charles
Simon, Charnan
Simon, William J.
Singer, Isaac Bashevis
Sklansky, Amy E.
Slobodkina, Esphyr
Small, David
Smath, Jerry
Smith, Betty
Smith, Jos. A.
Smith, Lane
Smith, Thena
Smith-Griswold, Wendy
Smollin, Mike
Snicket, Lemony
So, Meilo
Sorensen, Henri
Souza, Diana
Spinelli, Jerry
Spirn, Michele Sobel
Springstubb, Tricia
Spufford, Francis
Starr, Pamela Vaull
Stafford, William
Stead, Erin E.
Stein, Evaleen
Stein, Peter
Steinbeck, John
Stemple, Heidi E. Y.
Stephenson, Kristina
Stevenson, James
Stevenson, Robert Lewis
Thompson, John
Thompson, Kate
Thompson, Lauren
Thoreau, Henry David
Todd, Justin
Tolkien, J. R. R.
Torme, Mel
Tseng, Jean
Tseng, Mou-Sien
Tsvetaeva, Marina
Twain, Mark
Updike, John