Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet, artist









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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

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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - A Florida Orange Juice Toast to Lee Bennett Hopkins!

February 16, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Lee Bennett Hopkins, found poetry, Florida


Today’s brief post is a combination of Throwback Thursday (see the pic) and I-Can’t-Wait-Til-Next-Thursday (read on for that!).

The “throwback” part is that nearly 10 years ago (gulp!), I finally got to meet Lee Bennett Hopkins in person, at the SCBWI Conference in LA, where I had gone to take his Poetry Master Class. He hasn’t changed a bit – I’ve seen pictures and Renée’s NCTE Poet Award interviews - while I’m edging my way along the road from Long-ago Maiden toward Crone. (And that’s fine with me – I don’t worry what anybody thinks of me these days, and more creative time DOES open up after years in the carpool lines.) ;0)

The “can’t wait” part is that next week, I’m driving a wee bit down the coast and taking a right turn past the Florida line toward Gainesville, to go watch Lee be inducted into the Florida Arts Hall of Fame. I was honored, along with many others including some fellow Poetry Friday-ers, to write a nominating letter on his behalf and to include accolades from several Star-Power poets and others supporting Lee’s recognition. [Hats off to poet friends Stephanie Salkin and Jude Mandell, who guided us through the process. ]

Lee’s receiving this honor is especially meaningful to me, because I grew up in Florida. My folks are still there, and I have family members tucked in among the orange trees all around Central Florida from Orlando to the Gulf coast. I always carry a bit of The Sunshine State with me, and visit when I can. The Hall of Fame recognition is the highest honor given by the state to artists in a variety of fields, and the list of recipients includes Ray Charles, Tennessee Williams, and Ernest Hemingway, among others.

THREE CHEERS to Lee on this wonderful honor, which will have good company with all the red-carpet-worthy awards he’s won over the years. I’ve been blessed to know Lee as someone whose work I’ve admired beyond words, and who, as a mentor & editor, has pushed me into writing stronger poetry. Next week I’ll be a fan, a friend, and something akin to a fellow-Floridian, cheering from his corner.

In Georgia Heard’s THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK, A Book of FOUND POEMS (Roaring Brook), my own poetry first shared pages with poems by some of my poetic heroes. Here is the beginning of Lee’s poem, “First Wins” (from selected words in a SPRINT newspaper advertisement):

FIRST leads.

FIRST moves us forward.

FIRST kicks open the door.

FIRST takes us places
            we’ve never been
            before. …


©2012 by Lee Bennett Hopkins.


I think we could say,

LEE leads.

LEE moves us forward.

LEE kicks open the door.

LEE takes us places
            we’ve never been
            before. …
!


And, I'm grateful.

[I’ll be on the road back home next Poetry Friday, so you can enjoy this post for two weeks. ;0) ]

For today’s inspiring Roundup, please visit poet and librarian extraordinaire Jone at Check It Out.

Poetry Friday: Of Mice and Chihuahuas - and Rebecca Kai Dotlich

January 7, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, authors, book tracks, animals, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Lee Bennett Hopkins


Just over three years ago, we rescued a three-pound Chihuahua. (Okay, I rescued a three-pound Chihuahua when something tiny ran in front of my car on a busy road. “You’re not even a real dog!” I said, dodging traffic.) Less than a year old, no tags or microchip, and though she’d been loved by somebody, we were unable to find an owner. So she joined the family, and son Seth named her Rita.

We’ve never been “tiny dog” people, but I have to say, this one steals everybody’s heart. More than one vet tech has marveled that she’s a nice Chihuahua.

She’s also entertaining. Her latest antics involve stalking mice below the house from the comfort of indoors. Our small coastal cottage was built on slanted ground with pillars in the back. Boards run from the ground to the bottom all around, but there is open space between them. You can open a gate and walk on dirt underneath the back part of the house. With insulation tucked beneath the floor, it’s evidently an inviting space for little critters to make themselves at home. (Hubby was down there this week, and one of said little critters dropped down as he was tacking up insulation – not sure which one was more surprised! At least it was small.)

From inside the house, Rita has set up a couple of monitoring stations. One is below the dining room hutch. She can fit inside the space between its carved legs. She’ll sniff and then sit on high alert, head cocked and ears up, for quite a while. Then she’ll run around to the rug in the kitchen and adopt the same stance. Wonder what she’s listening to? I’ll ask her, “Rita – where are your mice?”

All this puts me in a mind to share Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s beautiful poem, “Winter Home.” It’s from one of my favorite collections of all time, Sharing the Seasons (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010) by the incomparable Lee Bennett Hopkins . The rich illustrations by David Diaz are pure magic.

Enjoy!


Winter Home

by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

We build our beds
inside this barn,
with shreds of cloth,
old rags, twine. A room
where we can winter-dine
to chime of ice, by windows full
of snowflake art. With dreams of crumb,
cracker, tart, inside this old
wind-whistling place, this cold
and tiny mousekin space,
we cuddle to chase
the chill away,
imagining an April day.



©Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Used with permission.


Savor this poem – it’s one to read again; you’re sure to catch some new poetic treasure the second (or third!) time. So many luscious words/turns of phrase - do you have a favorite?

I wonder if these mice are distant cousins to the ones who usher us into and out of Jumping Off Library Shelves (Wordsong, September 2015)? :0)

RKD fans, take note: If you haven’t seen her oh-so-clever One Day, The End.: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories (Boyds Mills Press, October 2015) illustrated by Fred Koehler, you’re in for a treat. Keep your antennae out next month for another Boyds Mills title by Rebecca, The Knowing Book, illustrated by Matthew Cordell. I was lucky enough to have a sneak peek of this one, and it’s going to be on my gift-giving list for all kinds of occasions. (“This picture book encourages readers to make the most of their lives….” School Library Journal).

Thanks to Rebecca for sharing the perfect Winter poem today, and to all the wee critters that enrich our lives.

Keep celebrating a new year of poetry with our wonderful Tabatha, rounding up at The Opposite of Indifference today. Stay warm and cozy!

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....

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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!
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