Hannah enjoying poetry workshop
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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
photo by Steve Kolich
Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
photo by Mel Hornsby
Southern Breeze Kudos Kites 09 - Donna, Robyn, Heather, Sarah, and Peggy
Robyn with Kathleen Duey, author extraordinaire
Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller
photo by Robyn Hood Black
Paul B. Janeczko http://www.paulbjaneczko.com
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"4 Kids 2 Do" and "Press Kit" pages.
March 30, 2012
Fans of Nancy Raines Day’s wordplay are in for a treat. Her newest picture book, A IS FOR ALLIGUITAR - Musical Alphabeasts
(Pelican Publishing, Spring 2012) is a unique abecedarium - chock-full of fun animal/instrument combinations.
Since Nancy’s first picture book, THE LION’S WHISKERS, appeared in 1995, she’s published half a dozen more. All have poetic language, and some of them rhyme, like her rollicking ON A WINDY NIGHT (Abrams) (see my blog post here
) and DOUBLE THOSE WHEELS (Dutton).
In her new book, each letter of the alphabet comes to life in an unexpected way. The Illustrations by Herb Leonhard are colorful and full of expression and movement. (And what a challenge it must have been to visually create, say, a “harpoodle” or an “organutan.”) For insight into Leonhard’s process in bringing to life these “alphabeasts,” which involved traditional and digital painting techniques, see his comments here
on Nancy’s website.
Here’s how the story starts:
swing all around,
Mix - one for each letter -
now how do they sound?
Some of Nancy’s own favorite characters begin the adventure:
is for alliguitar,
who has his
is for banjaguar,
who plays some
Another of her favorite spreads is one I’m especially drawn to:
is for saxofox,
is for tromboa,
who really can
I’m swayin’ to the music, baby.
Nancy adds, “My fellow University of Michigan alumni friends get a kick out of the wolbourines
Before becoming a children’s author, Nancy wrote in some form or fashion throughout her life. As a child, she “published a newspaper written on leaves with ‘ink’ from squished berries and charged 25 cents in hickory nut money.”
I asked Nancy a couple of questions about this new book.
How did you get the idea for ALLIGUITAR?
“I was standing on the St. Simons (Georgia) pier, thinking about going to a reunion concert of the youth orchestra I played viola with in high school--all the different instruments and the people who played them. Some tourists on the pier were talking about just having seen an alligator in the water. So, while scanning the water for an alligator and thinking about instruments, my wires got crossed and I said "Alliguitar".
I wondered if I could come up with a combination like that for every letter of the alphabet. Mostly, I did it for my own entertainment. (Some people do crossword puzzles; I set myself these little challenges.) Then I wondered if I could put it all in rhyme, which--this time--came easily. It was a gift.
What fun! What was the most challenging part of the project?
The most challenging part was probably coming up with the animal/instrument combinations. Google was a big help for finding lists of animals and instruments that started with the right letter or sound. It also helped in trying to come up with scenarios to pair the two musical alphabeasts in the same stanza and spread. For instance, googling ibis and jackal, I discovered the Egyptians had two gods, one with the head of an ibis and another with the head of a jackal.
Those ancient Egyptians had some intriguing deities. Thanks for stopping in, Nancy!
Young readers will love the creative letter/instrument combinations that form each colorful "alphabeast" - and they will likely come up with their own! Learn more about Nancy and her work at her website.
And to fill your universe with more great poetry, click on over to visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup. [Next week, the Roundup will be HERE! :0) ]
March 22, 2012
Beautiful and sneeze-worthy!
Greetings! I'm busy presenting a "Haiku How-To" workshop at the 43rd Annual Children's Literature Conference
at the University of Georgia in Athens this weekend. Will try to make the Poetry Friday rounds after the conference!
In preparing materials for teachers and media specialists, I decided to add a new HAIKU page
to my website. It has links to download a 4-page Resource guide, as well as handouts with simple guidelines for creating haiku with grades 3-5 and K-2. Help yourself!
The pollen count in the greater Atlanta area has been off the charts this week. (Something like above 9,000?) Here in north Georgia, the tree canopies and the pathways are covered in cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms, of course, have always been an important and favorite subject for haiku.
But today I think we'll revisit a few familiar lines from A. E. Houseman (1859–1936):
A Shropshire Lad II: Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
By A. E. Housman
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more. ...
Please click HERE
to read the final stanza.
And please click HERE
for the Poetry Friday Roundup, hosted by our Fearless Poetry Friday Roundup Leader, Mary Lee, at A Year of Reading
. Don't forget the Madness Poetry Tournament
at Think, Kid, Think
- good luck to everyone still "in"! Everyone vote for your favorites!
March 16, 2012
Wicklow Mountains, Ireland - from a family trip in 1996
Wishing everyone good luck in the MADNESS Poetry Tournament over at Think, Kid, Think.
Thanks to Ed DeCaria for putting this together - it's been a lot of fun and it's only the beginning!
I had to come up with a poem containing the word "unnatural," pitted against Darren Sardelli's poem using the word "thawed." Voting for our match-up continues until about 11 p.m. tonight, by the way, HERE.
So my thoughts turn to Ireland this St. Patrick's Day weekend, and the wonderful contemporary Irish poet Eavan Boland, whose work I've shared before. The poem below, which is new to me, is one a reader can revisit and glean something new each time. Boland's writing is so very evocative.
by Eavan Boland
The woman sits and spins. She makes no sound.
The man behind her stands by the door.
There is always this: a background, a foreground.
This much we know. They do not want to be here.
The year is 1890. Before the inks are dry
Parnell will fall and orchards burn where the two
Captains - Moonlight, Boycott - have had their way.
She has a spinning wheel. He has a loom.
She has a shawl. He stands beside a landscape -
maybe a river, maybe hills, maybe even a farm ... .
Please click here
to read the rest of the poem.
And try your luck with more great poetry at Gotta Book
, where Greg has the Poetry Friday Roundup!
March 12, 2012
Blogger Ed DeCaria of Think, Kid, Think!
(http://www.thinkkidthink.com/) has come up with a fun/friendly(?) competition for those of us who love wordplay as much as (or more than) basketball. Sixty-four children's poets from around the world have signed on to participate in the Madness! 2012 kids’ poetry tournament. Participants include everyone from well-published poets (Jane Yolen) to pre-published poets.
These randomly-chosen brackets have just been announced, and first round "play" begins tonight. Voting should begin Wednesday morning if I understand it all correctly. Winning poems move on to the next round. Go check it out! And vote for your favorite poems.
A great way to get in shape for Poetry Month in April, no?
Here's a link to the rules
Let the games begin!
March 8, 2012
I’ve been happily immersed in haiku, as I’m thrilled to be presenting a "Haiku How-To" workshop at the 43rd Annual Children's Literature Conference
at The University of Georgia in a couple of weeks.
Also, the spring issues of several haiku journals are out, and I’m honored to have my work in a few of them. In addition to the Modern Haiku
link I shared week before last, I’ve got a poem each in The Heron's Nest,
and A Hundred Gourds
. (Click to read.)
The work of my terrifically talented friend and Berry Blue Haiku
editor Gisele LeBlanc is featured in these issues as well. Unbeknownst to each other, we both just received acceptances for the April issues of Acorn
as well as for Prune Juice
Gisele’s work also appears in Shamrock
this month, and I just received an acceptance from Chrysanthemum
for the April issue.
I’m humbled and thrilled about all of these. One thing I love about the English-language haiku journals is that they are published in so many different countries and the works of poets from all over the world can appear on the same page.
If you don’t have time to click and enjoy the haiku on the pages above, I’ll leave you with Gisele’s and my poems from the new issue of The Heron’s Nest
the big dipper
my dog keeps searching
for the right spot
Spanish moss dipped
Robyn Hood Black
My haiku formed itself as I walked in my folks’ Orlando neighborhood last year during a trip to my hometown. While I love the beauty of the north Georgia mountains, there’s something so singular about the nature of light in Florida that always seizes me when I visit. I grew up there and didn’t really notice this difference in the quality of the sky, the brightness of those tropical colors, until I moved away. The landscapes here near the Appalachians are lovely, but the colors are generally more subtle, the light less intense. And unless you head to southern and coastal parts of Georgia, we don’t have all that dramatic Spanish moss dripping from the trees.
For lots of great poetry to light up your day, visit the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by the delightful and insightful Myra at Gathering Books
. Be sure to wish her Happy Birthday!
March 2, 2012
Yesterday the spring-like sun was shining and the wolves (and other animals) were frisky and full of themselves at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve
, and I had a terrific time visiting with them. That put me in a mind to find a good, wild poem for today. I really love Carl Sandburg's "wilderness that will not let (him) go." Here are the first and fourth sections, but you'll want to click the link at the end to read the whole poem:
by Carl Sandburg
There is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.
There is a fish in me … I know I came from saltblue water-gates … I scurried with shoals of herring … I blew waterspouts with porpoises … before land was … before the water went down … before Noah … before the first chapter of Genesis. ...
Please click here
to enjoy the whole poem. (If you have time, leave a comment below with your favorite fun phrase - one of mine is the "saltblue water-gates" above.)
And then run, creep, slither, swim, fly or otherwise get thee to Dori Reads
where Doraine has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup.
bio, photos, interview links, etc.
Explore a poem or two or five....
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
In schools or other settings, Robyn shares her passion for writing and encourages creativity. Presentations for all age groups.
In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
A rhyming tale of a young boy's knightly adventure with an imagined dragon.
Nonfiction, interactive book on wolves featuring giant pop-up and tons of info!
(Click here to visit Robyn's art business)
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
National Council of Teachers of English
Click here for KidLitosphere's links to current poetry round-up