Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet





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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 http://www.kathleenduey.com

Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller http://www.debbiemilleralaska.com

photo by Robyn Hood Black
Paul B. Janeczko http://www.paulbjaneczko.com

Copyright 2005-2016 ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved. Please ask permission before using any text or images on this website, except for reproducible
"4 Kids 2 Do" and "Press Kit" pages.

Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: Lee Bennett Hopkins is Here with LULLABY...!

February 20, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, babies and toddlers, Lee Bennett Hopkins, book tracks, poetry


Shhhh.... Don't wake the ba- ... Oh, never mind. The baby's awake! And ready to enjoy wonderful poetry from the incomparable Lee Bennett Hopkins!

Before we dive into poetry for the very youngest listeners, let's congratulate Lee on some big news. You likely know of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award. This week, it was announced that The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Lee have joined forces to establish the SCBWI Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, which "recognizes and encourages the publication of an excellent book of poetry or anthology for children and/or young adults." This award will given every three years. [Click here here for the Publishers Weekly article, and here for the SCBWI award page with details. ]

Our guest of honor today is no stranger to awards - among his many honors are the NCTE National Council of Teachers of English Excellence in Poetry for Children (2009), the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for “outstanding contributions to the field of children’s literature” (1989); and recognition by the Guinness Book of World Records as "the most prolific anthologist of poetry for children" (2011).

With more than a hundred books under his belt, including original works as well as collections he's carefully compiled and brought to life, Lee is simply a force for children's poetry like no other. The countless (who could count them?!) children who have entered the magical world of poetry because of his work might not know of the accolades behind a poetry book held in their hands, or one read to them. But Lee knows these children. He knows the power of poetry for one child.

Warmest Greetings, Lee – Poetry Friday folks are always thrilled when you join us! I’m also thrilled to share your thoughts about your new collection of poems to be released from Abrams next week (Tuesday, March 3). It’s for the very youngest readers and listeners, LULLABY & KISSES SWEET – Poems to Love with your Baby. What inspired you to create a book of poems for babies?

I have been at work compiling LULLABY & KISSES SWEET for a long time. I feel it is of the utmost importance that babies are exposed to oral language, hearing words, knowing books, as early as being in the womb! The sooner we get our children to read, to appreciate words, the faster they will become lifelong readers.

And what could be more important than instilling children with the music of poetry?


Why is it important to expose babies and toddlers to rhymes and verse?

Hearing rhymes and verse opens children to experience the world around them. I chose topics for LULLABY… that are both universal and an integral part of growing up… Family, Food, Firsts, Play and Bedtime.

What could be more enjoyable than reading a poem about something that is a new childhood experience – a first tooth coming in, riding a tricycle for the first time, or having a teddy bear tucked near one’s head at bedtime? Experiences to cherish, to share, via verse.


From your perspective as a poet – what are the challenges of writing for this very youngest of ages?

Poems written for LULLABY… were not only challenging to compose but tricky to create. Since this was being produced as an oversized board book no poem could be more than eight lines long, all had to rhyme, and each poet was assigned to a specific subject. The poets and I worked back and forth, sometimes altering many, many drafts before the verse was right for this collection. Oh, how I admire the tenacity of poets.

Compared to over l00 anthologies I have compiled for children and young adults, LULLABY… was a constant, ongoing challenge.


Tell us about the title of the book; it’s just delicious.

The title comes from the first line in Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s poem “Sandman”. Rebecca told me she made up this poem as a song and sang it bedside to her young nephew when he had just moved and was homesick the fist night. From that time on he knew the verse by heart, as did the entire family. Rebecca’s mother begged her for years to publish the poem. Finally, she will get to see it come to life on the page – a gift Rebecca so wanted to give to her aging mother. I am so happy I could fulfill a few dreams. “Sandman” though only four lines long is filled with a lifetime of memories, generations of ‘kisses sweet ’now published for forthcoming generations to read, read aloud, and share.

Alyssa Nassner's illustrations are so fresh and lively. How would you describe the way pictures and text work together in this project?

Alyssa’s artwork is perfect for this collection. The varied anthropomorphic full-color drawings are perfect for this age level.

What child (or adult) wouldn’t fall in love with kittens, bears, lions, or a bunny with pink ears playing in a sandbox?


This is a case-bound board book (perfect for gift-giving, folks!). Was it important to you that the collection be sturdy enough for babies to handle themselves, not just listen to? How do you hope this special audience interacts with this poetry?

It was my brilliant editor, Tamar Brazis at Abrams, who led this project on to become a board book. And it is one of the biggest board books I’ve seen in a very long time – 30 poems each getting their own page.

On an end note I thank you, Robyn, for the amount of time and work you put into your poem, “Milk” in the Food section. Writing a gem featuring a baby, a grandmother, a father and a sippy cup is no small feat. And in five-lines you managed to bring in so much familial love. Wow!

LULLABY… is subtitled: “Poems to Love with your Baby”. Each poet’s words resonate with the concept – love.


Many thanks for joining us today, Lee (and for those blush-worthy kind words). Your gifts to readers of all ages know no bounds.

Let's close with a few poems from the book, shall we?

The spread pictured above features these two terrific poems in the "Play" section.

Sandbox

by Stephanie Salkin

Sand on my fingers, on my toes,
Sand on my chin, my ears, my nose,
Sand on my elbows, neck, and knees.
Take me out of this sandbox -

Please?


©2015 by Stephanie Salkin. Used by permission.



My Tricycle

by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

How many seats? One.
How many pedals? Two.
How many wheels?
One, two, three.

I am riding by myself.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


©2015 by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. Used by permission.

[Many thanks to Stephanie and Amy for sharing these fine poems.]

What? All that playing has made you sleepy? I have just the thing. Among many lovely poems in the "Bedtime" section is one of Lee's own:

Read to Me

by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Read to me.
Read to me.

Read to me - then -
read to me
read to me
again and again.


©2015 by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Used by permission.

There now, didn't that make you... what's that? You want to hear it again!

Read these poems and more - again and again! - this coming Tuesday, when LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET is officially launched from Abrams.

To tide you over til then, please visit My Juicy Little Universe, where the lovely Heidi is marching forward to round up Poetry Friday today.

Poetry Friday: LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET Pre-Preview...

February 19, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, Lullaby and Kisses Sweet, poetry, babies, toddlers, Lee Bennett Hopkins, book tracks

Poem ©Robyn Hood Black; Illustration ©Alyssa Nassner. All rights reserved.

Greetings! Unless you are checking in today from the Western edges of the US (or another country), you are likely tapping a keyboard with fingerless gloves and peering out from under a toboggan! I hope you have a cuppa something warm close by.

NEXT week, our special guest here at Life on the Deckle Edge will be...
(drumroll, please.......)

LEE BENNETT HOPKINS!

Lee will kindly drop by to share a peek behind the scenes of his brand-new poetry collection, LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET - Poems to Love with your Baby, illustrated by Alyssa Nassner. The official release date is March 3, from Abrams Appleseed. The casebound board book features 30 original poems from 27 poets. [I'm beyond delighted to be one (!), along with other familiar faces from our Poetry Friday community.]

No spoilers - we'll dive in deeply next week. In the meantime, I'm grateful to share my poem above, featured in the section, "Food."

                    Milk

      by Robyn Hood Black

    Grandma holds my sippy cup.

        Daddy helps me pour.

    I love my milk each morning

                      But

        I love them even more.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


[Can't wait for next Friday? Click here here for the Publishers Weekly review.]

Raising a cup of steaming coffee - no, Milk! - to the warm and wonderful Linda at Teacher Dance as she rounds up Poetry Friday this week. Stay cozy! And see you here next week....

Poetry Friday: Student Haiku Poet of the Month Olivia Graner

February 12, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, student work, Student Poet of the Month, poetry


Happy Valentine’s Weekend, All!

I won’t pry into anyone’s love life, but I’m glad you poetry lovers are out and about this Poetry Friday. As promised, I have much for you to love here today.

Our Student Haiku Poet of the Month series continues with Olivia Graner.

Olivia lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is (almost) thirteen years old and is in seventh grade at The Paideia School. She lives with her mom, her dad, her nine-year-old brother, her thirteen-year-old golden retriever, and her six-year-old goldfish. Olivia is an avid writer and reader. She also enjoys musical theater, piano, ukulele, and pogo stick-ing.

“I tend to enjoy haiku because of its simplicity (or lack thereof),” Olivia says. “An American haiku must be written with fewer than seventeen syllables, which can be a blessing or a curse. Granted, with nine or ten words, not much physical writing goes in to the actual poem, but painting a scene in which to transport the reader in three or less short lines can be rather challenging (in a good way).”

I think you’ll agree Olivia is up for the challenge! Enjoy these examples of her poetry:


morning radio
voices weave their way
into my dreams


pronation
a left shoe’s sole
worn away


creak of a door
the attic’s smell
floods the hallway


silent night
wax drips from
the memory candle


frozen bird bath
feathers
atop the ice


one night only:
stage fright
killing dreams



Poems ©Olivia Graner. All rights reserved.


I’m really struck by “silent night,” though each poem “transports” as Olivia says - don't you think?

For more posts in this series featuring talented students, please click here.

And for more poetry to love this week, please visit talented teacher and author Cathy, rounding up poems to fill your heart at Merely Day by Day.

Poetry Friday: Ahoy! Sea Songs, Pirates, Valentines....

February 5, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, sea, Etsy, art, ponderings, pirates

a peek into mini sea-themed works-in-progress.... ©Robyn Hood Black

At the beginning of last year, I shared an amazing gift sent to me by my friend and fellow writer Kim Siegelson (who has a keen antique sense and a great Etsy shop, too, Perfect Patina).

It was a nearly 700-page book – sumptuously covered and illustrated, titled:

Crown Jewels
OR
Gems of Literature, Art, and Music
BEING
Choice Selections from the Writings and Musical Productions of the Most Celebrated Authors, From the Earliest Times


compiled by Henry Davenport Northrop, D. D., and published in 1888.

(To read my post about this wonderful book from Kim, in all its over-the-top Victorian glory, click here.)

In my art life for this new year, I’m working on more locale-friendly pieces to offer in my kiosk space at Fordham Market.
As in, things that might appeal to tourists and visitors of our delightful coastal town.

Lucky for me, CROWN JEWELS has many poems and songs about the sea! Though written a hundred (or few hundred) years ago, surely the words still ring like a ship’s bell to those who dock at our lovely marina, just across the street from my tucked-away studio. I’ve got some small shadow-box mixed media pieces in the works, featuring everything from excerpts to short entire poems to found poems I’ve "uncovered" in prose passages.

This week I broke out my printmaking supplies (have stayed away from since my neck/shoulder/hand/nerves injury in the fall), and it felt wonderful to carve into a small block of wood and later to breathe in the ink, hearing and feeling its sticky snap on glass as I rolled my brayer… even if I was making just a wee image. The mini prints are backgrounds for the clipped pieces of text, and, of course, there must be some vintage-y bling involved. I usually use actual old metal pieces. Occasionally, if I find just the right element offered by an artisan, I’ll use that. Just take a look at that lovely tiny anchor in the picture – it’s blackened pewter, handmade in the USA and cast as opposed to stamped, and available from Fallen Angel Brass on Etsy. Yep, I bought a few!

For these first few mini shadow boxes, I clipped this refrain from CROWN JEWELS. Warning: if you read it more than once, it will start sailing around in your head. A lot. Come on, read it out loud in your best gravelly pirate voice:

from THE TAR FOR ALL WEATHERS

by Charles Dibdin

But sailors were born for all weathers,
     Great guns let it blow high or low,
Our duty keeps us to our tethers,
     And where the gale drives we must go.

….

Our Mr. Dibdin (1745-1814) wrote many songs over the course of his life and career.

Now, this excerpt, printed as a poem, is from a song. Which got me wondering about songs of the sea, which led me to looking up sea shanties. A sea shanty was a song sung by the crew of tall sailing ships back in the day – usually call-and-response, with simple lyrics. The songs helped everyone keep to the same rhythm, and likely kept boredom at bay on long journeys as well.

Hungry for more, ye say? Well, y’ave plenty of time to read up before International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19), so ye might look in on this fun website I found,: The Pirate King.

Now, where were we?

Oh – CROWN JEWELS!

In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up, here’s another poem from this literary treasure chest. I might just have to tuck it into my hubby’s Valentine – shhh; don’t tell!

Associations of Home

by Walter Condor

That is not home, where day by day
I wear the busy hours away;
that is not home, where lonely night
Prepares me for the toils of light;
‘tis hope, and joy, and memory, give
A home in which the heart can live.
It is a presence undefined,
O’ershadowing the conscious mind;
Where love and duty sweetly blend
To consecrate the name of friend
Where’er thou art, is home to me,
And home without thee cannot be.


Wishing you the comfort of “a presence undefined” among friends and loved ones this month.

Be sure to row back over next week, when we’ll enjoy some lovely haiku from our February Student Haiku Poet of the Month!

And now please visit our always-original Liz (Elizabeth) Steinglass, rounding up the fleet of Poetry Friday posts today at her blog .

Quick Clicks

Media
bio, photos, interview links, etc.
Poems
Explore a poem or two or five....
Haiku
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
Author visits
In schools or other settings, Robyn shares her passion for writing and encourages creativity. Presentations for all age groups.
Magazines
In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
Books
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!
Portfolio
illustrations