Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet







SCROLL DOWN FOR POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP SCHEDULE

Hannah enjoying poetry workshop

(Scroll down this column for tags, archives and blogroll....)


POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP SCHEDULE


I will get all these linked ASAP, but in the meantime, here's the schedule: 


January

3 Betsy at I Think in Poems

10 Donna at Mainely Write

17 Keri at Keri Recommends

24 Tara at A Teaching Life

31 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect


February

7 Renee at No Water River

14 Linda at TeacherDance

21 Karen at Karen Edmisten

28 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!


March

7 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

14 Kara at Rogue Anthropologist

21 Julie at The Drift Record

28 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading


April

4 Amy at The Poem Farm

11 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

18 [Me - HERE!]

25 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference


May

2 Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat.

9 Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup

16 Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass

23 Violet at Violet Nesdoly /​ poems

30 Diane at Random Noodling


June

6 Catherine at Catherine Johnson

13 Carol at Carol's Corner

20 Buffy at Buffy's Blog

27 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

Enjoy these Great
Children's Lit Blogs and Websites:


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

© Robyn Hood Black
five hungry mouths mid-may

© Robyn Hood Black
five fat feathery babies may 25

© Robyn Hood Black
Fresh from the nest! May 27, 2009

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 2005-2013 ©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: Joyce Sidman and some verse novelists, too!

January 3, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, illustrators, book tracks, writing life

Happy New Year!

So maybe I haven’t put away the Christmas decorations yet, but I’ve started off the New Year with a couple of poetry posts on other blogs.

First, I was thrilled to be able to interview our most recent recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, Joyce Sidman, for the PACYA (Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults) blog.

I’ve admired Joyce’s work for a long time, and she kindly agreed to let me share a poem here today, too.

From one of my favorite books, the Newbery Honor-winning DARK EMPEROR & OTHER POEMS OF THE NIGHT, illustrated by printmaker Rick Allen (Houghton Mifflin, 2010), here is the opening poem:

Welcome to the Night

To all of you who crawl and creep,
who buzz and chirp and hoot and peep,
who wake at dusk and throw off sleep:
Welcome to the night.

To you who make the forest sing,
who dip and dodge on silent wing,
who flutter, hover, clasp, and cling:
Welcome to the night!

Come feel the cool and shadowed breeze,
come smell your way among the trees,
come touch rough bark and leathered leaves:
Welcome to the night.

The night’s a sea of dappled dark,
the night’s a feast of sound and spark,
the night’s a wild, enchanted park.
Welcome to the night!


©Joyce Sidman. All rights reserved.

To read the PACYA interview, click here, and to peruse Joyce’s wonderful website brimming with resources for readers, writers, and teachers, click here.

Second, my monthly poetry column on Janice Hardy’s terrific blog for fiction writers, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY, has moved to the first Wednesday of the month this year. (Though it won’t appear in Feb.) This week we’re exploring verse novels, and I have some amazing book excerpts and insights from three wonderful, award-winning authors: Eileen Spinelli, April Halprin Wayland, and
Susan Taylor Brown.

I’m so thankful to each of these poets – Joyce, Eileen, April, and Susan – for sharing their gifts and their thoughts in this bright New Year.

For more great poetry, go visit the multipl-y gifted Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme for today’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday is HERE!

December 6, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, magazines, writing life, illustrators

Image ©Hyewon Yum; text ©Carus Publishing.

Happy Poetry Friday, and Happy Holidays!

I’ll be rounding up throughout the day, so come on in and have a cup of hot chocolate or tea and enjoy all the great poetry posted today. Please leave your link and a short description in the comments.

Today, I’m celebrating that one of my poems appears in the current issue of LADYBUG . Several years ago, when we lived on a small farm, I encountered a beautiful fox where our yard met our woods. Weather-wise, it was probably much like today – chilly, with one season was making way for the next. I remember the fox and myself suspended in a moment of stillness just looking at each other – a fleeting moment that was gone as quickly as it came.

I wrote this poem from that experience and was delighted when it was accepted for publication at Carus. It was originally accepted by SPIDER, but they ended up not publishing it, and in the meantime the LADYBUG editor had expressed interest. Suffice it to say that after a few years of waiting, I’m thrilled it has found a home in the Nov./Dec. 2012 issue.

Even more thrilled that it is so beautifully illustrated by the talented Hyewon Yum , who kindly shared the original art above with us today. It's a linoleum cut print - isn't it perfect? Yum is an acclaimed author/illustrator of many books including: MOM, IT’S MY FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN (2012), THE TWINS’ BLANKET (2011), THERE ARE NO SCARY WOLVES (2010), and LAST NIGHT (2008) all from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. More books are soon to hit the shelves, which she either illustrated or wrote and illustrated.

Many thanks to Hyewon for sharing her artwork, and to The LADYBUG/Carus folks for granting permission to post my poem for you today. Here it is:

GRAY FOX

by Robyn Hood Black

At the edge of winter,
at the edge of the wood,
at the edge of the brush,
a gray fox stood.

I took a small step,
I took a breath in –
then nothing was there
where the gray fox had been.


© 2012 by Carus Publishing

Click here for a link to the LADYBUG Teacher’s Guide. (It says October, but scroll halfway down and you’ll come to a couple of suggestions/questions re. “Gray Fox.”)

Thanks so much for coming by today, and here’s to appreciating moments and poems! (Remember to leave your link with your comments if you want to be rounded up.)

Oh – and if you’re a fiction writer, you might enjoy my column from yesterday over at Janice Hardy’s blog, The Other Side of the Story, in which I talk about writing mask poems as a way to get inside your character’s head. (Thanks to the lovely Amy Ludwig VanDerwater for loaning a poem for the post!) In 2013, my column at Janice's will move from the first Thursday of each month to the first Wednesday of each month (except Feb.).

Carry on!

HERE'S THE ROUND-UP:

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff has delightful feline fare today: JRR Tolkien's "Cat."

At Gathering Books, this month's water tales theme continues with Mary Oliver's "Blackwater Pond," presented by the lovely Myra in a visual setting befitting the words.

Father Goose is here today with "The Christmas Box" (from his CHRISTMAS IS COMING!) with a homemade gift idea that would thrill any parent.

Violet has a fun and yummy original ABC poem called "Appetite Affair." If you haven't yet had breakfast, this will make your stomach rumble....

At Poetry for Kids Joy, Joy brings us her original poem, "The Elf." I like that this elf is female! :0)

Jama at Alphabet Soup serves up another stunning haibun by Penny Harter, the title work from ONE BOWL.

After reading Jeff's cat post above, you must head over to Carol's Corner, where Carol is featuring Rose Fyleman's classic "Mice" with Lois Ehlert's magnificent collage illustration.

Tara at A Teaching Life has Mark Strand's moving "Lines for Winter" (and a gorgeous photograph to go with it).

At Teacher Dance, Linda shares an original poem about a weather phenomenon she noticed while at school - I won't spoil the fun, but I'm happy to say she was quick with her camera as well as her pen!

Matt Goodfellow at Poems and things! is in with a triple play of original poems today: "Yew Tree", "Different Eyes" and "Ghost Bike."

(Off to make coffee - back in a short bit....)

Wondering how to start writing your next poem or creating your next piece of art? Susan Taylor Brown has a wonderful poem by David Whyte today, "Start Close In" - food for the creative soul!

At The Poem Farm, Amy offers an original poem from her SPARK 18 project to accompany Amy Souza's gorgeous collage. (If you had a grandmother like mine, "Quilt Map" will fill your heart.)

Join Tabatha for some touching low-tech communication celebrated in two delightful poems: "Father's Story" by Elizabeth Madox Roberts and "The Telephone" by Robert Frost.

Visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe for a new take on "Squandering" - an original poem inspired by a kindergarten teacher's comment during a challenging day.

Speaking of the classroom, over at A Year of Reading, Mary Lee has a simple and powerful original poem about teaching.

Take a moment to s-l-o-w down with a very clever original poem, "The Snail's Lament," penned by Liz at Growing Wild. She also offers a discussion of how she revised this poem - great to share with students (or others!) expecting to write a perfect draft the first time.

Laura, our resident Author Amok, shares the history of the haunting Coventry Carol, including a video of the Westminster Choir singing it. This thoughtful post literally gave me chills. (As Laura kindly points out, if you've recently suffered miscarriage or the loss of an infant, you might want to skip for now and come back at a later date.)

Our other Laura is in with a poem from David Harrison's newest book, COWBOYS. She's sharing "Stampede." (Does anyone else think she might be partial to that title?) ;0)

Also, Laura's got quite the lively party going on at 15 Words or Less Poems. Check out today's larger-than-life picture prompt and join the fun.

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche shares the most wonderful poems in a "Preposition Parade" today - her own poem and then several samples from students. (The kids came up with 50 prepositions as part of this exercise - can you??)

Another terrific teacher in our pack of poets, Betsy, takes a look back at warmer days with an original poem, "Summer Dandilion," over at Teaching Young Writers.

At Charlotte's Library, Charlotte shares her son's first sestina. (Note: Link is working now.)

Steve is in today with a "thoughtful-wondering poem about chance events and parents getting older" at Inside the Dog. This is one of the sharpest poems I've read today - exemplifying this repeating theme of observing a moment. (Beautifully wrought, it has great prepositions we've been discussing, too!)

At Random Noodling, Diane offers up a few humorous poems from a 1937 anthology. Kurious Kitty
has a gorgeous poem by Rumi accompanied by a perfect photo , and, Kurious K's Kwotes' Poetry Friday quote is by Rumi, too.

At There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town, Ruth ponders the winners of the Academy of American Poets "best poems of the year" and shares a fun poetic look at love poems from Rafael Campo.

David's in with celebratory voyage of poetic nonsense (very cleverly crafted) at fomagrams. Happy Birthday, David! (I would like to note that my birthday is coming up next month and I am younger than David, though not by much, but I'm younger.) ;0)

Speaking of birthdays, Karen is celebrating Willa Cather's birthday today with the poem, "L'Envoi," which Cather wrote for Fr. Scott.

Lovely Sylvia has two offerings today: a list of more than a dozen books featuring poetry for Hanukkah (which begins this weekend) at Poetry for Children, and Constance Levy's fun "penny" poem with accompanying activites at The Poetry Friday Anthology blog.

At Paper Tigers, Marjorie offers a look at anonymous seventeenth-century English nonsense/puzzle poem, "I Saw a Peacock With A Fiery Tail," and a lovely discussion about Gond artist Ramsingh Urveti's stunning illustrations of it in a recent version published by Tara Books. Warning: I read this post and immediately ordered the book online. Yes, I did.

JoAnn Early Macken is here! She's a guest today at Teaching Authors with a student poem from WRITE A POEM STEP BY STEP, her new book which shares tips for teaching poetry gleaned from years of experience. AND, she's giving a copy away... so go sign up like I just did.

Little Willow at Bildungsroman has a gorgeous poem by Siegfried Sassoon, "Butterflies."

At The Small Nouns, Ben is also featuring Willa Cather's "L'Envoi" poem, and a discussion about careful planning versus shooting from the hip. Which way do you approach a task?

MotherReader has a glowing review of J. Patrick Lewis's new anthology, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY, with a taste of Robert Frost for you to sample. She dares you to click the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon and not end up buying this book. (I dare you, too.)

Lunch break! Afternoon posters, add your links in your comments and I'll circle back around.

Break out the footy pajamas! Bridget has an original poem paying homage to the ultimate winter comfort wear at wee words for wee ones.

Remember all the madness this past March at Think, Kid, Think? Well, Ed has just unveiled "The Thinkier", a celebration in bronze to commemorate each year's poetic champion.

Matt is getting us in the holiday spirit with a poem celebrating Christmas trees from his winter collection of poetry, AND he has a lovely give-away offer. Of what? You'll have to click over to find out.

Any bugs knocking on your door for winter housing? Check out Jone's look at two bug poetry books at Check It Out for some fun with lots of legs, and some great classroom tie-ins to boot.

A hearty welcome to children's author Dia Calhoun, who ventures into Poetry Friday for the first time with a lovely original poem, "A Room With No View."

And in the Fashionably-Late-to-the-Party-and-Always-Welcome-Dept., we have:

The Write Sisters with (one of my personal favorites!) a wild Carl Sandburg poem, and an equally cool photo.

Donna at Mainely Write has been finding inspiration in lost gloves this week. Click the blog link for today's succinct and clever offering, and, if you want more, that poem's pink predecessor was posted on Tuesday. ("They have jobs to do while they wait," says Donna.)

Here's some more humor to transition into the weekend: Janet at All About the Books offers a taste of Douglas Florian's LAUGH-ETERIA. (You can't even get through this plug without smiling, can you?)

If, like Irene, you are searching for the perfect breakfast casserole recipe for this weekend, try this poetic little treasure she found in the back of a cookbook. Wishing you heaping servings.

An evening surprise:

Carlie at Twinkling Along shares a lovely cinquain about cherry blossoms in December. Yes, cherry blossoms!

Weekend Update:

At On Point, Lorie Ann has an original haiku this week - and you must see the accompanying photograph!

Poetry Friday: Longfellow, Luscious Art, and Lovely Writer Friends

November 29, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, writing life, art, authors, illustrators

The Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Boyd Hanna (The Heritage Press, NY, 1943)

If you've peeked in over at my other blog on artsyletters, you know I'm a sucker for vintage treasures. (I'm becoming one myself, you see.) So imagine my delight when, for my friend's birthday outing yesterday, I took her to a lunch spot she chose (Vietnamese - yummy!) and she took me to a couple of her favorite antique haunts in her part of Atlanta.

Imagine my further delight when she presented me with a surprise gift she'd found and been keeping for me - a beautiful 1943 copy of THE POEMS OF HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW (The Heritage Press, NY), with the most delicious wood engravings by Boyd Hanna (1907-1987).

This friend is well-versed in writing AND vintage, with a keen eye for art - Kim Siegelson, whose many award winning books for young people include the Coretta Scott King Award winner, IN THE TIME OF THE DRUMS. Kim has also been an invaluable guide on my new Etsy adventure, as she runs a busy and delightful shop, Perfect Patina. She's always keeping an eye out for vintage wonders, and I'm lucky that she spied this poetry book and thought of me. (It came with a lovely, inspiring note from her, too - now happily presiding above my computer shining down sparkly warm beams of encouragement.)

Kim thought I would enjoy the gorgeous wood engraving illustrations, printed in browns and greens, especially the one above featuring the bold bird in winter. She's right, of course! And since it's been dipping into the 30s here this week in north Georgia, I thought sharing the Longfellow poem it illustrates would be appropriate:

Woods in Winter

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(1807-1882)

When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overbrows the lonely vale.

O'er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.

Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
Pour out the river's gradual tide,
Shrilly the skater's iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!

But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;
And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.


Remind me to come back to this post around February! And I hope if winter winds are already blowing where you are, you'll hear a bit of "wild music" with them. I also hope you'll come back here next week, when I have the honor of hosting the Poetry Friday Round Up. Today, it's over at The Poem Farm, lassoed by the ever-talented Amy.

Poetry Friday: poetry book give-away at my OTHER blog...

October 18, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, illustrators, art, poetry, SCBWI, Southern Breeze

Dearest Poetry Friday Friends,

Forgive this short post, but I'm on my way to Birmingham for our SCBWI Southern Breeze fall conference this weekend. Yee-hi!

I'm checking in, though, with a link to this week's "Art Break Wednesday" post on my new artsyletters blog, because you might be interested in:

1.) a Q and A with the exuberant Melanie Hall - artist, teacher, and award-winning illustrator of many children's books (including several poetry collections), and

2.) a give-away of one of said poetry collections. A lucky commenter will be randomly selected to receive a copy of Every Second Something Happens - Poems for the Mind and Senses, selected by Christine San José and Bill Johnson (Wordsong). Just post a comment ON THAT ARTSYLETTERS BLOG POST linked above by Monday at midnight, EST. (I will approve and post comments as I can throughout the weekend, internet connections willing.)

Finally, you MUST go see what Poetry Friday Rounder-Upper Irene has over at Live Your Poem. She invited participants in the 2012 KidLit Progressive poem to pen a couplet for an original "zoo" poem - in honor of Irene's brand-new novel, Don't Feed the Boy from Roaring Brook (which I can't wait to scoop up this weekend). My two lines were based on a somewhat slithery encounter at the Mule Camp Festival here last weekend. Go sssseeeeeee....

Thanks for visiting!

Poetry Friday - Lee Bennett Hopkins and MARY'S SONG

July 27, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, book tracks, authors, illustrators, poetry

MARY'S SONG by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Eerdman's, 2012

Illustrations ©Stephen Alcorn

This page reads:

"I even thought I heard a whisper

from spider above the manger,

spinning her web -

though I know what silent spinners

spiders are.

Merry Christmas! Christmas in July, I mean, and we’re unwrapping a very special gift today. Instead of a poem, we have a renowned poet and a magical, lyrical picture book.

Lee Bennett Hopkins is here! THE most prolific children’s poetry anthologist, Lee has received the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for “outstanding contributions to the field of children’s literature,” the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Poetry for Children Award and the Florida Libraries’ Lifetime Achievement Award, just to name a few.

In addition to his award-winning anthologies, Lee’s own poetry collections, picture books and professional texts have won countless awards, and he established two coveted awards “to encourage the recognition of poetry.” He’s also a popular keynote speaker at literature conferences.

Busy as he is, he agreed to stop by and tell us about his newest book. MARY’S SONG, hot off the press from Eerdman’s and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn, is sure to become part of family traditions and treasures this Christmas and for years and years to come.
I’ve been anticipating this book for a long time. When my copy arrived last week, my first reaction was not so much that the writing is brilliant (it is) or that the art is amazing (it is) but that I wished I’d had this book to share with my own children when they were small.

I love the magical interplay of text, which describes a new mother’s longing for a quiet moment with her baby, and the gorgeous art with its warm palette and cross hatchings which seem to invite readers to find connections between halos, spider webs, the light of the sun, The Light of the World… I’m getting carried away. Let me turn it over to Lee.

You’ve referred to Mary’s Song as “my nativity lovesong.” Do you remember how the idea came to you? How long did it drift around in your mind before you wrote the text?

I have always wanted to write about Mary. There are so many books about her yet so few about Her! I knew deep inside I needed to write a tribute to Mary being with HER child -- alone. I remember my niece, Jennifer, giving birth to my grand-niece, Erin Elizabeth, after years of trying to bear a child. So many rushed to the hospital bringing balloons, gifts, wanting to see and hold the baby. I remember looking at my niece, her eyes almost shouting how she wanted to be alone with this precious gift. In some ways the idea clicked then. In all nativity stories we hear of the hubbub, the fuss, Wise Men bearing gifts, shepherds, animals crowding the manger. I am certain Mary might have felt the same way. Thus, I wanted MARY'S SONG to BE a tribute to Motherhood. More than a Christmas story, it is about Motherhood.

I was struck, as a reader, not only that the tale is told from Mary’s perspective, but that it’s all about sound. Poetry is all about sound. Was this a natural way for you to explore Mary’s feelings, after your own life’s work immersed in poetry?

Truly, I do not remember writing this piece. Looking back on my notes I began the book on December 3, 2007, finished a fourth and final draft on December 6th. The words simply flowed. I wanted sounds of noise in the text; I also wanted the one word QUIET emphasized. Stephen Alcorn created a work of splendor in the double-page spread with simply the one word.

How did you put yourself in Mary’s place to imagine all these rich, sensory details?

Another oddity. I wrote the text, it went through the near five-year publishing process, I saw proofs, read them through, was thrilled to hold the first bound copy in my hand. One night my brother-in-law, Anthony, came to the house and began poring through the pages. He looked at me and said: "This is all told from the voice of Mary. How could you do this?" I never realized I had done that. I still read through the text and find it fascinating that the whole book IS Mary's point of view. If Anthony hadn't seen this would I have ever? Ah, the mysteries of writing.

I was delighted to see the appearance of a spider in the story, such symbolic little creatures. Was she there from the beginning?

Spider came about in the second draft. I thought the idea of this quiet creature was so allegorical. Or was it because I've always been 'caught in Stephen Alcorn's “web”?

Speaking again of Stephen Alcorn, what glorious illustrations! Another great collaboration between your words and his art. (MY AMERICA, DAYS TO CELEBRATE, and AMERICA AT WAR also spring to mind.) His gentle depictions in MARY’S SONG reflect the story so beautifully and of course add magic of their own. How did you react when you saw the illustrations?

Stephen and I have done many books together. I only wanted him as the artist. Before the manuscript was even submitted I knew he had to do the artwork. It wasn't hard to convince anyone at Eerdmans; the art director, Gayle Brown, knew and loved his work. While attempting the first draft of MARY'S SONG, I saw his work throughout the writing. I saw his spider and her web. I could feel his ever-changing palette - his mood, rhythm, his sense of distinct design. Stephen was taken with the text immediately. How lucky I am to have him in my life. When I first saw Stephen's sketches, and after the goose bumps went away, I cried. I feel as if he and I became one on this book. It is interesting to note that his wife, Sabina, is the model for Mary. And the Dedication to my beloved sister was penned the moment the text was finished.

Thank you for being my special guest today to share Christmas in July! Any other upcoming projects you’d like to whet our appetites for?

Scheduled for Fall, 2013 is ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE to appear from Creative Editions. The book, based on Shakespeare's famed monologue from AS YOU LIKE IT, is a young adult collection following "Seven Ages of Man" from ENTRANCES: 'At first the infant' to ENDS: "Last scene." It is, I hope, a powerful collection illustrated by Guy Billout, another remarkable artist.

Oooh, now I’ll be eagerly anticipating this one! Can’t wait. Thank you again for joining us today and for the generous behind-the-scenes peek at MARY’S SONG.

To learn more about Lee and his incomparable body of work, please visit his website.

And for more Poetry Friday surprises, hop over to Life is Better with Books for this week’s Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Nesting with Robins

May 25, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, nature, birds, Highlights, authors, illustrators, workshops

©Cory Corrado



Is this a great picture or what? At the Poetry for All Highlights Founders workshop last week, I shared my cabin with some special guests. Well, the inside top of the porch of my cabin. A pair of robins dutifully flew in and out and in and out to tend their nest.

The photo was taken by fellow workshop attendee Cory Corrado, a lovely and talented poet and amazing nature photographer who hails from Quebec, Canada. She spent a little time patiently waiting – okay, a long time patiently waiting – balancing herself standing on a deck chair holding out for just the right shots when the birds wouldn't fly away. See how her patience paid off?

Cory’s book of photos and poetry, “Pho-etry,” called Nature Inspires, was featured earlier this year on Poetry for All co-leader David L. Harrison’s blog (click here for the link.) You can also get a virtual look at Cory’s stunning work in the book by clicking here.

Well, I’ve been thinking about those robins. And I’m enjoying all the varied birdlife outside my own doors this spring. (Oh – and Susan Taylor Brown’s amazing bird photos on her Poppiness website! – Have you seen those or followed her bird stories there or on Facebook?)

Back to robins. Here’s a fun poem for today from The Golden Book of Poetry(1947) as shared on The Poetry Foundation website.

The Secret

By Anonymous

We have a secret, just we three,
The robin, and I, and the sweet cherry-tree;
The bird told the tree, and the tree told me,
And nobody knows it but just us three.

But of course the robin knows it best,
Because she built the--I shan't tell the rest;
And laid the four little--something in it--
I'm afraid I shall tell it every minute.

But if the tree and the robin don't peep,
I'll try my best the secret to keep;
Though I know when the little birds fly about
Then the whole secret will be out.


Now wing your way over to TeacherDance for more great poetry, where Lovely Linda has today’s Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Poetry for All Workshop, and Jean Craighead George

May 18, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, illustrators, writing life, Highlights, nature, workshops

Top: Eileen Spinelli, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Rebecca Davis, Melanie Hall, David L. Harrison

middle: cabin, and having fun with Rebecca S.,

Rebecca K. D., Bill, and Jacqueline (and Cindi taking pix)

with Marjorie Maddox; Joy Acey and David

bottom: happily in the middle of a Spinelli Sandwich

What a week! I was blessed and thrilled to spend the last several days in Pennsylvania up at beautiful Boyds Mills with a few fellow Poetry Friday folks (Heidi! Joy! Liz! Julie!), and some wonderful new friends, and our fearless leaders of the Highlights Founders "Poetry for All" workshop: Rebecca Kai Dotlich, David L. Harrison, and Eileen Spinelli, along with special guests editor Rebecca Davis, illustrator Melanie Hall, and poet Marjorie Maddox. Whew!

We had serious literary discussions and explorations of craft, and some rather silly times, too, and of course amazing food from gourmet chef Marcia and her wonderful staff. And wine every afternoon!

Relishing the natural beauty up there, I managed to get in a couple of walks, though we had lots of rain. I even had a family of robins nesting up in the corner of my cabin's porch.

It was wonderful dropping in on the Highlights and Boyds Mills folks Wednesday (Hi, Joëlle! Hi, Larry!), and on the way back from that trip to Honesdale, the driver of my car, Pam, slowed down for a bear crossing the road! A beautiful, agile young creature which bounded off into the woods.

For a taste of the amazing wit, wisdom, and experience shared with us, I'll offer just one quote (from my notes) from each of our speakers:

David: "I had 67 rejections for writing stories for kids. Friends magazine bought the 68th...."

Rebecca: "Brainstorm - noodle and doodle in sketchbooks. Visualize details."

Eileen: "The deeper we go into our hearts, the richer our lives become."

also,

Melanie: "We have to try to pull something new out of ourselves. That's the task for the creative person."

Rebecca Davis: "I love it when a poetry collection can be greater than the sum of its parts."

Marjorie: "As poets, we're witnesses of the world."

(We also had a special treat of a dinner visit and a few comments from Boyds Mills Press Executive Editor Liz Van Doren!)

If you've been to a Highlights workshop, you know why several of our 21 attendees had been before. If you've never been, try to get to one someday - your Muse will thank you!

Speaking of inspiration, I was saddened to learn, when I got home late Thursday night and reconnected a little with the world, that Jean Craighead George had passed away on Tuesday (just one week after we lost Maurice Sendak). I'd like to close today's post with the last few lines of her picture book, THE WOLVES ARE BACK (illustrated by Wendell Minor; Dutton, 2008). This is a picture book rather than poetry, but the words are lovely and rich.

The grasses grew tall; the riverbank stopped eroding. Willow and aspen trees flourished. Beavers built ponds. Birds sang. Flowers bloomed.

The wilderness is in balance again.

The wolves are back.


Thank you, Jean Craighead George.

(For more, see the author's website, The New York Times, and Publisher's Weekly, inlcluding a tribute from
Wendell Minor.)

And thanks to everyone for making the poetry workshop a resounding success. For more great poetry and for thoughts about living in the moment, stop in to see Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat. for today's Roundup.

Poetry Friday is HERE - and The Arrow Finds Its Mark!

April 6, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poetry Month, poetry, book tracks, authors, illustrators

My office kitty, May, appreciates the illustration homage to “Starry Night” below my poem, “We See With These,” opposite Bob Raczka’s delightful “Places I’d Love to Van Gogh Someday.”

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

Hope you’re enjoying all the great poetry offerings in Kidlitosphere this month. I’m thrilled to be hosting on the first Friday in April!

And I’m beyond thrilled to share Georgia Heard’s brand-new anthology of found poems, THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK , illustrated by Antoine Guilloppé, hot off the Roaring Brook Press. This is the first time my own poetry has appeared in an anthology for kids, and I couldn’t be more humbled and excited.

Thirty poets, including Lee Bennett Hopkins, Joyce Sidman, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Jane Yolen, Naomi Shihab Nye, J. Patrick Lewis, David L. Harrison, Janet Wong and many others contributed material for this collection, “finding” poetry in unlikely places.

Poets were encouraged to find existing text (some found sounds!) in a form other than poetry and present that text as a poem, and not to change, add or rearrange words (though some minor variations were allowed). Inspiration came from catalogs, signs, airplane magazines, social networking sites, advertisements – even a detergent box! One of my favorites is Bob Raczka’s “How to Write a Poem on Your Computer” using words from drop-down computer menus.

I wanted my submissions to be kid-friendly. The first poem I have in the book, “Battling Beams,” came from a LaserTag score report I found crumpled up on the laundry room counter. (Thank you, son Seth, for attending that birthday party.)

My second poem (below) came from a visit to a fourth grade classroom. Teacher extraordinaire Sharon Briggs (who taught both of my now-just-about-grown children) let me come in and hunt for poetic treasure. I jotted down notes from the whiteboard, work assignments, and the like. But I got obsessed when looking through activities in the Sitton Spelling and Word Skills Practice Book. One crossword puzzle highlighting plural words had all kinds of evocative-sounding clues sprinkled throughout “Down” and “Across.” I felt they needed to be herded together into something a little bit magical. I used one of the clues as the title, too.


We See with These



On a clear night, you can see lots of these
sparkling in the sky.

They help you see

Tooth Fairy collectibles,

more than one mouse,

more than one moose,

more than one elf,

more.


Copyright ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

In her introduction to the collection, Georgia Heard mentions several of the poems and writes: “… some poets chose to splice words together from a single source and make a kind of word collage, as in Robyn Hood Black’s ‘We See with These’.” A word collage. I love that! And I think that’s an idea kids can run with too. I’ll try it out with Mrs. Briggs’s current batch of fourth graders next week.

I also love this from the introduction, “…I want my readers to know that poetry is everywhere – if we only look at the world with poet’s eyes.”

Hats off to other Poetry Friday regulars with poems in the collection, including Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (“Artist’s Advice”) and Laura Purdie Salas (“They Don’t Want Speeding Tickets, So…” and “Top Ten Rules for our Zoo Field Trip”). I’ll have the good luck to post a terrific interview with Laura next Friday the 13th (with a poem that you haven’t seen before!) and, on the following Friday (April 20) we’ll be jazzing things up here with the multi-award winning Carole Boston Weatherford. What a special month.

(I’ll be popping in on these wonderful blogs myself: Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup Poetry Potluck on Wed., April 11, and Laura Shovan’s month-long celebration at Author Amok on Friday, April 13. Thank you, Ladies!)

There are so many great celebrations out there TODAY – please leave your links in the comments, and I’ll round them up throughout the day.
(more…)

Poetry Friday: The Big Bad Wolf has his Say

February 9, 2012

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, animals, wolves, illustrators

I’m always curious about how animals are depicted in stories, myths, folktales and art. As well as in the media – I haven’t yet seen it, but this week’s TIME has an intriguing cover story about a scientific examination of friendships between animals.
One of my favorite spreads in my WOLVES book is a brief look at “The Mythical Wolf.” For the illustration, I suggested a human in wolf clothing on one side (an indigenous person wearing a wolf pelt as a sign of admiration), and a wolf in human clothing (think of our Western “big bad wolf”) on the other. Colin Howard produced brilliant artwork.

I recently ran across this poem, “The Wolf’s Postscript to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ ” by Agha Shahid Ali (1949 – 2001, credited with introducing the classical form of the ghazal to American readers). In the poem below, I fell in love with the speaker’s dry, sophisticated voice. See if you don’t agree it’s dark and delicious (and rather sad, too):

The Wolf’s Postscript to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’
(excerpt)

by Agha Shahid Ali

First, grant me my sense of history:
I did it for posterity,
for kindergarten teachers
and a clear moral:
Little girls shouldn't wander off
in search of strange flowers,
and they mustn't speak to strangers.

And then grant me my generous sense of plot:
Couldn't I have gobbled her up
right there in the jungle? …



Click here for the rest of the poem.

And be sure to check out the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by Laura this week at Writing the World for Kids.

Conference Call...

January 19, 2012

Tags: SCBWI, Southern Breeze, editors, illustrators, conferences

Breaking News: Sandy Fry made us a great TRAILER on facebook, with yours truly narrating. Enjoy!

Just a shout-out on behalf of the SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle Conference, which I'm coordinating in Atlanta Feb. 24-26. Early-bird discount registration ends THIS Sat., Jan. 21 (Note: the online registration site will be down for a few hours tomorrow night).

We've got a GREAT weekend planned, with Newbery Honor winner Kirby Larson as our keynote and optional novel-writing intensive leader, editors Greg Ferguson (Egmont), Kristin Daly Rens (Balzer&Bray/Harpercollins), and agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Literary), plus a workshop from OWLY graphic novel series creator Andy Runton.

Click here and then click SPRINGMINGLE for conference info.

To Poetry Friday folks, I'm sure it will be a great day of poetry, rounded up by Elaine at Wild Rose Reader. I'll jump back in next week; I'm covered up in Springmingle planning today. Enjoy!

Smiles all around for the New Year

January 11, 2012

Tags: school visits, authors, illustrators, SCBWI, Highlights, writing life

Paula B. Puckett and her alpaca photo essay in the Feb. 2012 Highlights! (In our critique group, we celebrate publications with "the crown of success" - a pic with a tiara and cape, of course!)
This week has been one with lots of smiles in the writing realm.

On Monday, I presented writing workshops to three groups of fifth graders and one group of fourth graders at Dyer Elementary School in Dacula, Georgia. The kids were enthusiastic and creative. (So were the teachers! I love it when the teachers have fun with the writing activities, too.)

Special thanks to Media Specialist Paula Flageolle and also to Teresa Ellis for taking care of every possible detail. (Not just bottled water, folks, but little bite-sized donut holes – perfect to pop in your mouth between sessions!)

Last night, at a critique group meeting, we got to Snoopy-dance with my extra-special writing/art buddy and friend Paula B. Puckett. Her nonfiction feature, “Cutting Cowboy’s Hair” is smack-dab in the middle of the February issue of Highlights .

Way to go, Paula! She is not only the author of the piece, but she provided photo illustrations as well.

Cowboy, by the way, is one of Paula’s very own alpacas. He thinks he runs the farm. Click here for my post last spring about Paula and her 'pacas.

You know, Paula and I have traveled to so many SCBWI conferences together I figure we’ve shared more hotel rooms than my hubby and I have. It’s so great to also share successes with folks who have persisted a long time to make their dreams come true.

What an enriching way to start off a new year – celebrating creative endeavors from kids and adults alike. I love this job.

Picture Book Month

November 1, 2011

Tags: authors, illustrators

Today begins Picture Book Month! My friend and critique group buddy Elizabeth Dulemba was one of the founding folks for this worthy endeavor.

Here's the press release:
Authors and Illustrators Team to Create Picture Book Month
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

"I have always believed that literature begins in the cradle -- the poems we say to the babies, the stories
we tell them -- prepare them to become part of the great human storytelling community. We humans are
the only creatures in the known universe who make and remake our world with story."
- Jane Yolen from
her Picture Book Month essay

The New York Times declared, “Picture Books No Longer A Staple for Children” in an article
published in October 2010. The controversial article incited a barrage of responses from the children’s
book industry, many in defense of the venerable picture book. In addition, the digital age has ushered in
an unprecedented amount of ebooks and, with devices like the iPad, the color Nook, and the Kindle Fire,
picture books are being converted to the digital format.

Thus, Picture Book Month was born. Founder Dianne de Las Casas decided it was time to
celebrate picture books in their printed format so she created an initiative to designate November as
“Picture Book Month.” Katie Davis, Elizabeth Dulemba, Tara Lazar, and Wendy Martin came on board
to champion the cause and spread the word. A logo was designed by Joyce Wan. A website
(www.picturebookmonth.com) was created to feature essays from “Picture Book Champions,”
thought leaders in the children’s literature community. Each day in November, a new essay will be posted
from such notable contributors as Suzanne Bloom, Denise Fleming, Leslie Helakoski, Eric A. Kimmel, Tammi Sauer, Dan Yaccarino, and Jane Yolen.

Better World Books and organizations like Scholastic Book Fairs Philippines are lending their support. The website
will also feature links to picture book resources, authors, illustrators, and kidlit book bloggers. In addition, parents, educators,
and librarians can download the theme calendar to help them plan their picture book celebrations and access picture book activities.

Join the celebration! Visit www.picturebookmonth.com. The website officially opens on
November 1, 2011.

“Picture books are important because they are with us for life. They are the most important books we'll
ever read because they're our first. No matter how many books we've read since, they will always have a
place in our hearts.” – Dan Yaccarino from his Picture Book Month Essay.

Eric Rohmann's BONE DOG - more than a Halloween treat...

October 30, 2011

Tags: book tracks, authors, illustrators, animals, Highlights, workshops

I've had the pleasure of hearing Caldecott medalist Eric Rohmann speak a couple of times, most recently at the fantastic Advanced Illustrators Highlights Foundation workshop last month. (See Sept. posts.)

In Honesdale, in addition to enjoying the incredibly fun relief printing workshop he offered, I chatted with him for a few moments about his new book, Bone Dog (Roaring Brook Press, 2011). The Highlights folks were gracious to provide a copy of the book for attendees, but I'd already brought one in my suitcase.

I don't have an official interview to offer, but I do have to keep shouting out about how much I LOVE this book. Eric joked during that weekend about how it was standard procedure, when writing a picture book, to kill off a main character by the second or third spread. That's actually what he did in this touching (but not sentimental), humorous, heartfelt story about a boy and his dog.

Gus's beloved old dog, Ella, dies. He goes through the motions of daily activities but is grieving this loss.

"And when Halloween came around, Gus didn't feel like trick-or-treating. But he pulled on his costume and trudged out the door."

He's dressed as a skeleton, he is, and let's just say that as he makes his way home later, some real skeletons appear and they are up to no good. The text and illustrations cause just enough tension that a young reader will be wide-eyed and worried, but not terrified.

The skeleton characters are goofy and wicked and full of themselves, and the reader can sense that they might just be too big for their nonexistent britches.

I won't spoil the story by revealing how things are resolved, but Ella appears in a new form and helps to set things right, with a brilliant idea from Gus. (The book is called Bone Dog, after all - not really a spoiler there, is it?)

Some hilarious spreads ensue, followed by a satisfying ending. Not a "happily ever after," mind you, or something tidy and sweet - but something very rich and honest. Death is a heavy subject, and this book looks it straight in the eye - but with such fun, expressive illustrations and a wacky sense of humor that readers young and old will enjoy the tale.

To learn more about the book, click here for Eric's interview with Vicky Smith posted a few days ago on the Kirkus Reviews blog.

And to learn more about Eric, check out his brand new website.

With all the starred reviews for this one-of-a-kind book, my two cents' might not amount to much - but it's Halloween and I couldn't resist sharing my favorite recent picture book treat. Go dig it up!

Welcome, Steven Withrow!

October 7, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, authors, illustrators

Steven Withrow pictured with his lovely daughter
I’m delighted to feature Steven Withrow as our special guest today. This poet, storyteller, and author is a passionate advocate for young people’s literature and serves as an advisor to the Keene State Children’s Literature Festival.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Roger Williams University and a master’s degree from Emerson College. With director Edward J. Delaney, he produced the documentary, Library of the Early Mind.

Steven has taught at Rhode Island School of Design and Suffolk University and has spoken to audiences across North America. He’s authored six books for visual artists and storytellers, including Illustrating Children’s Picture Books (written with his talented wife, Lesley Breen Withrow). It’s a terrific book, and I will feature it soon on this blog.

But today…Poetry!

Welcome, Steven! You have so many talents and interests. Where to start?! How about telling us when and how you first fell in love with poetry.


I don’t remember a single moment of my life when I wasn’t in love with words—and all the syllables and sound clusters that make up words. I’m still more interested in how words touch the ears and how they taste on the tongue than in what they mean. The first poem I memorized, in second grade, was Karla Kuskin’s “Write About a Radish” from Dogs & Dragons, Trees & Dreams. I still know it by heart. I’ve been reveling in poetry and story ever since.

You recently released your first collection of poems for adults as a digital book, Crackles of Speech, available to readers who contact you through your website. What a breadth of subjects, forms, and treatments! Here’s a very small (and insufficient) sampling:

From many nods to the natural world, these lines from “Rooting” –

Hooray hurrah huzzah - for tap, sap, font, and source,
For fingertips of gymnosperms planting gymnastic handstands,
For bending straws of sycamores slurping the groundwater,
For xylem and phloem fixed in daylong flux…,

and an example of a historical reference, with these lines from “Cost of Battle, 48 B. C.” –

His helmet lost - a boy no more than twelve
Conscripted from the town by Pompey’s men -
I hesitate, but only for a flash,
Before I bring the spearhead down. …

and several touching musings on love and family, such as these closing lines of
“Lessons Fathers Only Learn at Home”

I look over at my burbling girl,
once the white and flattened face
of the moon in a sonogram photo,
the now-calm eye at the center
of this maelstrom’s crushing path,
this aftermath, and I start to laugh
at all my wild and cataclysmic joys.

I can’t tell you how much I love “all my wild and cataclysmic joys”! Speaking of children, you are especially interested in and committed to poetry for young readers. And your poem “Cornered” appears in the just-released p*tag, the second digital collection (this one featuring poetry for teens) from Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. What was it like writing for that project?


Thank you for your kind words about my poems in Crackles of Speech, which is a real miscellany of my work for adults written over a six-year period.

Regarding p*tag, I’ll say first what a stupendous honor it is to be included among such stellar poets as Naomi Shihab Nye and J. Patrick Lewis. Choosing a single photograph for inspiration, from a batch of dozens, was a matter of instinct.

I selected one titled “Corner” that shows the meeting of two walls inside an elaborately decorated church. I thought of how two people meet and fall in love. Borrowing four words from the Jeannine Atkins’s poem that precedes mine—ancient, saved, heart, corner—helped me to solidify my poem’s basic imagery. It was challenging to write and revise a poem within 48 hours—I usually draft poems quickly and often revise over the course of several weeks—but it was the best sort of challenge.

I’m always curious about creative work habits. Do you keep a set writing schedule, or write in fits and flurries, or both?

Given all that I’ve got going on, I write whenever and wherever I can. I’m trying to be more systematic about it, to make it a genuine practice, but it’s often catch-as-catch-can. I always write stories on paper or on the computer, but with poems, I’ll often “compose” silently in my mind while I’m taking a walk or washing dishes, or I’ll speak them aloud while I’m driving alone. As I noted before, I write for the ears and for the tongue. I revise on the computer—but the true test is whether I enjoy saying a poem out loud.

Are your collections born from a theme first or strung together from existing poems?

I’ve written several, as-yet-unpublished children’s collections, and all but one (my first) started with a central theme. I’m told it helps collections sell to editors and book buyers, though I’ve always preferred a grab bag of poems in a single book.

You have just started a grassroots, nonprofit organization, Poetry Advocates for Children & Young Adults, “celebrating poetry as a living thing.” Tell us about it! Who can join, and how do folks get involved?

All that I might say about PACYA can be found at http://poetryadvocates.wordpress.com, especially in this short essay. I invite everyone to get involved and help spread the word.

Finally, are there a few more lines you’d like to leave us with?

Releasing Butterflies
By Steven Withrow

Something seamy and unseemly in the name
they carry, painted ladies, pins a sordid shame

in fore- and hindwing, but its sting recedes in flight,
for they are dazzlers as they grab the air, these brightly

spotted Cynthias of a genus called Vanessa:
you laugh to draw the last, and dub her Iridessa.


[©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved]

Ahh... - delgihtful! Many thanks for visiting, Steven, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

To learn more, visit Steven at his poetry blog, Crackles of Speech, and at the Poetry at Play blog. For more great poetry, click over to the Poetry Friday Roundup at Great Kid Books!

Highlights Founders Illustrators Workshop

September 13, 2011

Tags: illustrators, Highlights, conferences, workshops

Eric, Suzanne, Lindsay, Melanie, Floyd, and the new "barn" inside and out
As promised, a few more words about the recent Highlights Founders workshop for Advanced Illustrators. In short, amazing!

I can't possibly recapture all of it for you, so let me serve something like the appetizers we were treated to while mingling each afternoon.

With the largest Founders Workshop group thus far (29 of us, I think), we broke in the new "barn" - a lovely, functional structure which sprouted from the imagination and planning of executive director Kent L. Brown Jr. Alison Myers kept the weekend running smoothly, and always with a smile. (And no doubt you've heard about the food! Hospitality Manager and chef Marcia Dunsmore completely spoiled us.)

We got to meet several folks from Boyds Mills and Highlights - and did I mention Highlights Senior Art Director Cynthia Smith posed for us as a model Sunday afternoon? In her gorgeous belly-dancing ensemble? What an amazing surprise!

Dinner speakers included the wonderful Alix Kennedy, executive director of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and the ever-dazzling Vera B. Williams. - "In my mind, you need joy to make colors."

Each of us had a personal critique with a faculty member. I was fortunate to have a one-on-one meeting with the incredible Lindsay Barrett George (link below).

Also, each faculty member led a hands-on demonstration and workshop for the group, spotlighting a particular medium. (Check out my home page for one of my efforts!) Some great photos are up on the Highlights Foundation facebook page. Oh, and methinks a couple of our fearless leaders, Eric and Suzanne?, can always use stand-up comedy as a back-up career....

From my notes, here is a gem of wisdom from each award-winning faculty member:

Eric Rohman: "I want to live an interesting life, so I want to try a lot of different things."

Melanie Hall: "Infuse your work with your personality."

Suzanne Bloom: "What we do is magic."

Lindsay Barrett George: "Make your reader care about and love your character... connect with kids on an emotional level."

Floyd Cooper: "I'm opposed to lines in my work." He also shared a few quotes, including this one by Henry James: "The best things come, as a general thing, from the talents that are members of a group...."

What a privilege it was to be a part of THIS group for a few days - the experience will forever enrich my life and my sketchbooks.

Every Second Something Happens with Melanie Hall

September 9, 2011

Tags: illustrators, poetry, Poetry Friday, writing life, Highlights, workshops

Robyn with Melanie Hall, illustrator of Every Second Something Happens and much more...
I'm still relishing my Highlights Founders Workshop in Advanced Illustration last weekend, and praying for the folks in that region facing floods this week. I'll conjure up a recap soon.

One highlight was meeting award-winning Melanie Hall, who has illustrated several volumes of poetry. I cornered her for some tips and she kindly offered insights and encouragement. Her exuberant illustrations reflect her joyous, infectious spirit. She uses a variety of media to create her colorful illustrations, which are often full of movement.

We took a close look at Every Second Something Happens - Poems for the Mind and Senses, selected by Christine San Jose and Bill Johnson (Wordsong, 2009). I particularly love the variety of pictures and the generous amounts of white space giving the poems room to breathe. Melanie designed the book with Boyds Mills's Tim Gillner.

The book offers a multiple intelligences approach to organizing the poems. From the Note to Parents: "We've organized the verse in a way that follows the natural human approaches to making sense of the world: through language, senses (eyes, ears, movement), rational thinking, dealing with others, and knowledge of ourselves. ...So this book might quite rightly be reckoned as poetry in the service of children's intellectual development. But we confess that for us it's the other way around: helping children use all their native wits and sensitivities to discover the myriad delights of poetry."

Poems by children, with names and ages listed, appear alongside works by David L. Harrison, Lucille Clifton, Dawn Watkins, and Shakespeare - just to name a few. (The book's title comes from a poem by six-year-old Sam.)

Rebecca Kai Dotlich's "A Circle of Sun" is included in the "Wiggle, Waggle, Shimmy, Shake" section. (Melanie also illustrated Rebecca's collection, Over in the Pink House.) I've used "A Circle of Sun" with very young students in school visits, and they love acting it out. Here are a few lines from the middle - for the complete poem, see Lemonade Sun or this anthology!

Excerpt from "A Circle of Sun"
by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

I gallop.
I grin.
I giggle.
I shout.
I'm Earth's many colors.
I'm morning and night.
I'm honey on toast.
I'm funny.
I'm bright.


Bright is the perfect word to describe Melanie Hall's contribution to poetry collections, including this one.

Katie has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Secrets & Sharing Soda.

Happy Birthday to Paul Fleischman from Honesdale, Pa.

September 2, 2011

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, illustrators, writing life, SCBWI, Southern Breeze, conferences, workshops

Robyn at the Highlights offices in 2009
Greetings from Honesdale, Pennsylvania, this morning, where I’ll attempt to find an internet connection and connect to Poetry Friday! I’m attending my second Highlights Founders Workshop up in the beautiful mountains here. My first was a poetry workshop; this time around is an illustrators’ workshop with an amazing faculty (and attendees, for that matter!).

Perusing Lee Bennett Hopkins’s DAYS TO CELEBRATE this past week, I discovered that Monday (Sept. 5) is the birthday of the one and only Paul Fleischman. We SCBWI Southern Breezers had the honor of hosting Paul for our 2008 fall conference. (This is all related, really.)

I appreciated Paul’s keynote address on “found sculpture,” in which he described his own creative pursuits outside of writing. He shared that creative energy put into something “non-writing” will “flow into your writing,” noting that: “Art is problem-solving. Art is difficult.”

I for one am thrilled he’s let his own creative energy flow into so many wonderful works. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Paul Fleischman!

Let’s celebrate with a few lines from the 1989 Newbery Medal-winning JOYFUL NOISE – Poems for Two Voices (illustrated by Eric Beddows).

Fireflies

Light    Light

        is the ink we use

Night     Night

is our parchment

        We’re

        fireflies

fireflies      flickering

flirting

        flashing


For the rest of the poem (and proper formatting!), click over to the excerpt on Paul’s website .

The scope of Paul’s work is dizzying, and he has been named by The U.S. Board on Books for Young People as the United States' Author Award nominee for the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Award , given every other year to “an author and illustrator for a body of work judged to have made lasting contributions to children's literature.” (Back to art – the amazing Chris Raschka is the U.S. nominee for the Illustration Award!) Winners are announced at the Bologna Book Fair.

Let me close with a quote from that 2008 keynote just for Jama, in case she drops by: “Serendipity is one of your four food groups, you know? Enjoy it!”

To enjoy more great poetry, head over to the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted today by Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect .

Celebrating Randolph Caldecott

August 26, 2011

Tags: poetry, Poetry Friday, illustrators, history, book tracks

© Robyn Hood Black

Randolph Caldecott's grave in Evergreen Cemetery, St. Augustine, Florida, and my quick sketch of it.
A couple of weeks ago, my family had a long weekend vacation in one of our favorite spots, and a place I remember fondly from growing up in Florida, St. Augustine.

Last time we were there, I met a delightful young children’s writer working at the Spanish Quarter (a living history complex) who shared this gem with me: Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) is buried there. He had traveled to the climate in an attempt to improve his ailing health, but died soon after arriving, a month shy of his 40th birthday. The Caldecott Medal , given to “the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children” was first awarded in 1938.

On our previous trip, and again this time, I went to pay my respects at his grave. [This year I was particularly keen to go, since next weekend I’m heading up to a Highlights Founders Workshop
for illustrators. Yee-hi! I’ve been to one other – on poetry.]

Evergreen Cemetery is unassuming and off the beaten path, but peaceful and well maintained. My only real company both times included birds (woodpeckers, a hawk, and others) and squirrels and some lively Florida bugs.

The grave is maintained by the Friends of the Library of St. Johns County, Inc., and the Randolph Caldecott Society of America . A 2005 plaque on the grave reads: “…As a tribute to his life and art, this burial site is designated a Literary Landmark by Friends of Libraries USA.”

One of my favorite books is Randolph Caldecott’s Picture Books (Huntington Library Classics, 2007), which includes copies of nine of the works in the Library’s collection (songs and rhymes made into books), including The Three Jovial Huntsmen and The Diverting History of John Gilpin. I particularly like the note in the introduction that in Sing a Song for Sixpence, Caldecott “ didn’t want children to think that the maid had permanently lost her nose to the blackbird…,” and therefore he added a verse:

The Maid was in the Garden
Hanging out the Clothes-;
There came a little Blackbird,
And snapped off her Nose.
But there came a Jenny Wren
And popped it on again.


The book is beautifully bound with thick, creamy pages perfectly setting off the sepia line drawings and colored wood engravings which still seem fresh today.

Quoting from the Randolph Caldecott Society of America website:

A friend of Mr. Caldecott, Fredrick Locker-Lampson, summed up Randolph Caldecott's work with these words: "It seems to me that Caldecott's art was of a quality that appears about once in a century. It had delightful characteristics most happily blended. He had a delicate fancy, and humor was as racy as it was refined. He had a keen sense of beauty and to sum up all, he had charm."

For more delightful, racy, charming poetry, visit Irene for the Poetry Friday Roundup .

She picked a pack of 'pacas....

April 8, 2011

Tags: animals, authors, illustrators, Poetry Friday

1.) Paula Puckett 2.) some of her fiber creations........... 3.) Riley, 5, shares some carrots
Who did? Paula B. Puckett: my dear friend, SCBWI conference travelling buddy, fellow writer and illustrator and critique group member. I know today is Poetry Friday (click here for Roundup), but I'm interrupting strictly poetic posts to share something fun.

Today, Paula's family hosted what's becoming an annual "alpaca shearing and pot luck lunch" for family and friends at their beautiful farm nestled in the North Georgia mountains.

I've always had a thing for alpacas and have enjoyed getting to visit hers. Today's shearing was interesting. The animals are laid out one at a time on special mats, and then the shearers go to work, removing the gorgeous, thick fleece with skilled hands. The process only takes a few minutes, and then the animal is trotting off to rejoin the herd. I'm thinking Paula's alpacas are going to be thankful come Sunday they're in short coats - we're supposed to have temps in the 80s! (more…)

Second Grade Authors Rock!

March 29, 2011

Tags: school visits, authors, illustrators

THE THREE LITTLE PIGS VISIT WEST VIRGINIA
I just received in the mail something worth celebrating. In November, I had the great privilege to (drive through an early snow! and) visit several schools in and near Charleston, West Virginia. The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra brings arts to the schools with more innovative programs than I could possibly list. Betty King, Vice President of Education/Operations, invited me up as part of an initiative culminating in a "Song of the Wolf" performance for the students.

Students participated in all kinds of Three-Little-Piggy-themed projects. Ms. Adkins's second grade class from Flinn Elementary School wrote and illustrated their own original story, THE THREE LITTLE PIGS VISIT WEST VIRGINIA. I was honored to get to read it when I spent some time in their classroom - what a dedicated teacher and creative students!

(more…)

Keeping Nature in Focus with Sarah C. Campbell

February 21, 2011

Tags: authors, illustrators, book tracks, nature, SCBWI, Southern Breeze

You can’t really say “nonfiction,” “nature,” and “SCBWI Southern Breeze” in the same sentence without saying Sarah C. Campbell! In addition to being a wonderful volunteer in our region (hailing from Mississippi), Sarah is an award-winning author and illustrator of spectacular books for children.

Her first book, WOLFSNAIL – A Backyard Predator (illustrated with photographs by the author and her talented husband, Richard P. Campbell) has won too many awards to list here (really!), including being named a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book and a Notable Children’s Book from the American Library Association. GROWING PATTERNS – Fibonacci Numbers in Nature is a 2011 ALA Notable Children’s Book and a 2011 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12. Both have won Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices awards, and both books are published by Boyds Mills Press.


Welcome, Sarah! I’m so happy you’ve dropped by for our “nonfiction nature writers” focus this month. Let’s start way back. What were you like as a kid?

I was a bit of a sickly child. I was slow to gain weight, slow to speak, and very fussy. Once my parents started feeding me soy milk, I was transformed -- virtually overnight. I went from not speaking to reciting full sentences. My first words, apparently, were “Have you turned my de-humidifier on?” My dad believes I developed my determined spirit during those rough early years.

By the time I was in school, I was very inquisitive and always interested in how things worked. I conducted an unauthorized survey in kindergarten. I followed a different classmate home each day for a week to find out what each was having for lunch. I gave up my quest only when I learned that my classmates were all having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too. (more…)

Explore 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA with Susan Rosson Spain and Elizabeth O. Dulemba

December 3, 2010

Tags: book tracks, authors, illustrators, SCBWI, Southern Breeze

Elizabeth Dulemba and Susan Rosson Spain
Let’s ring in the Christmas season with another great book in Sterling’s “The Twelve Days of Christmas. . .” series, namely, The Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia, written by Susan Rosson Spain and illustrated by Elizabeth O. Dulemba, friends I’m proud to have in my neck of the woods in the northern part of the Peach State.

If you are in this neck of the woods, be sure to stop by their next signings: Tuesday, Dec. 7, 4 – 5 p.m. at the HALL BOOK EXCHANGE in Gainesville, and Thursday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. at LITTLE SHOP OF STORIES in Decatur. Elizabeth and Susan agreed to drop by here, too, and tell us about their book.

Welcome, Susan and Elizabeth! The Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia takes readers on a colorful journey led by cousins Ava and Jacob, from the mountains in the north to the Okefenokee Swamp in the south to the Atlantic coastline. Jacob describes their adventures in letters home, tucking in lots of history and fun facts.

How in the world did you decide which points of interest to feature?
(more…)

Amazing Faces

September 6, 2010

Tags: poetry, authors, illustrators, book tracks

Tomorrow kicks off a week of "Random Acts of Publicity" in the children's lit world, thanks to Darcy Pattison (our keynote speaker for the SCBWI Southern Breeze fall conference, by the way). See http://www.darcypattison.com/pr-notes/random-acts/

I have too many authors to brag about for just one week, so I'm stretching it out for the next month or so. I'd actually like to usher in all this fun with a poetry anthology just out this summer. Lee Bennett Hopkins's AMAZING FACES (Lee and Low), illustrated by the award-winning Chris Soentpiet, amazing himself, lives up to its title. (more…)

Check out Elizabeth Dulemba's Coloring Pages!

August 10, 2010

Tags: authors, illustrators, Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, zedonk

My friend and award-winning author-illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba took a special liking to the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve's new baby zedonk. So today, for the Coloring Page she offers each Tuesday on her website, she has an adorable picture of a zebra! (And a picture and links to some of the online zedonk coverage.) Check out www.dulemba.com

But first, read what she has to say about why she offers these fun, free coloring pages to her happy followers:

(more…)

SHARING THE SEASONS - a look at the book

March 10, 2010

Tags: book tracks, authors, illustrators, poetry

Pre-spring's first rumble of thunder today calls me to make good on my promise to share great books in my blog this year.

A perfect first "share" is SHARING THE SEASONS, a glorious hot-off-the-press collection by renowned poet/anthologist Lee Bennet Hopkins, illustrated by Caldecott madalist David Diaz (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010). (more…)

Poetry, Pictures, Panel...

October 3, 2009

Tags: authors, illustrators, speaking, bookstores, SCBWI, poetry, Highlights, workshops

Busy week!

I finally uploaded a couple of pictures from last weekend's HIGHLIGHTS Founders Workshop, "Wordplay," led by Rebecca Kai Dotlich with special guests Susan Pearson and Alice Schertle. Check out my Poetry Page for these. I'm thrilled to have met all these wonderful women! (I know guys write poetry, too, but we had an all-female crowd.) (more…)

Remembering Liz Conrad

August 28, 2009

Tags: illustrators, SCBWI

As many of you know, our SCBWI Southern Breeze region and the world in general lost a living treasure with the passing of Liz Conrad on Wednesday. Elizabeth Dulemba has posted a beautiful tribute on her blog. If you scroll through the comments there, http://dulemba.com/2009/08/in-memoriam-liz-conrad.html , you'll begin to get an idea of how special Liz was (more…)

Andy Runton and OWLY

June 2, 2009

Tags: authors, illustrators, birds

When I think of the little wren family, or other wild guests in my own back yard, I think of the talented and wonderful Andy Runton. Do you know him?
He's the creator of the OWLY series of graphic novels, and he watches birds, rabbits, butterflies - you name it! - right here in Georgia. (more…)

Quick Clicks

Poems
Explore a poem or two or five....
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!
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.
Haiku
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
Portfolio
illustrations
Media
bio, photos, interview links, etc.