105 Ways to Give a Book

Poetry Friday: Pug and Other Animal Poems

Pug and Other Animal Poems
by Valerie Worth, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Farrar Straus Gioux Books for Young Readers, 2013
review from library copy
Pug and Other Animal PoemsWhile these poems capture the nature of cat, rat, and pug, there is often another layer of depth that I don’t always see in children’s poetry. Instead of going for the fun pun or obvious observations, this collection is one about lovely wordplay and imagery. The marvelous artwork of Steve Jenkins, as always, adds to the collection of eighteen poems. The detailed cut-paper animals accentuate the poems, but leave enough solid colored background in each two-page spread to give the poem center stage. I had many favorites from the book, but this particular poem takes place in a city, with illustrated echoes of the city where I’d very much like to be today.
Sparrows and Pigeons

Even in winter, along
Streets of stone
Where a thin sun
Warms nothing,
Sparrows and pigeons
Seem at home,
Where there appears
To be no home,
Fed, where no hand
Feeds them: flying,
Alive, on roofs,
On ledges of windows,
Down in the alleys,
They seem at home
And warm – as if
It were the country
And summer here,
Summer always,
And high gold corn.
-Valerie Worth

For more poetic selections, visit our Poetry Friday host, Teaching Young Writers.

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Poetry Friday: Follow, Follow

Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso PoemsFollow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems
by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse

Dial 2013, review from library copy
This picture book of poetry has a clever twist. The poems can be read backwards or forwards. With different line breaks, punctuation, and intended inflection, the reversed poem becomes something altogether new. Having common fairy tales as the subjects makes it easy for the reader to jump right into the story told in the contrasting verses. For instance On With the Dance captures - so to speak - the twelve dancing princesses:
Sleep, soldier.
Do not
follow this eager pack of princesses.
Cloaked
by moonlight,
steal unseen from the castle,
sisters,
keeping secrets.
No
fathers need to know
why,
night after night,
these dancing slippers are always worn out.
Or from another perspective:
These dancing slippers are always worn out
night after night.
Why?
Fathers need to know.
No
keeping secrets,
sisters.
Steal unseen from the castle
by moonlight.
Cloaked,
follow this eager pack of princesses.
Do no
sleep, soldier.
See how differently it reads with the same words? Love these. The illustrations are wonderful too, often combining contrasting colors like blues and oranges. Great poetry for young readers.

Poetry Friday is hosted today at Jama's Alphabet Soup.


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Waiting

Today is all about waiting. I'm waiting to see if Anna will be used as a photo double for a local film, though it's probably unlikely. I'm waiting to find out if Erin will be cast and/or called back for a local theatre production, which is probably likely. I'm waiting to learn the extensiveness and cost of repairs on my car, which has a continuum of suck factor I don't want to contemplate.

Around me, people are waiting. Friends in their last weeks of pregnancy are fighting with meditation or tearing apart rooms in the struggle with biding their time. Teacher friends are eyeing the last weeks of school. Writers always waiting for a letter, email, or call.

In this mode, I'm realizing that far from its passive nature, waiting has a palpaple energy. With determination and maybe luck, you can lose yourself in distraction. But in stillness, you can feel the force like waves beating a quiet rhythm in your brain.

Adrift: 76 Days Lost at SeaI talked about my own blogging blahs as a sense of something coming, but maybe it is more an accumulation of waiting that is tiring. Fighting ocean waves is useless. Better to coast on the current or ride in on the tide. It makes sense then that I was reading Adrift: 76 Days Lost at Sea and came on this passage:
An eternity exists between the click of each second. I remind myself that time does not stand still. The seconds will stack up like poker chips. Seconds into minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days. Time will pass. In months I will look back on this hell from a comfortable seat in the future... perhaps, if I'm lucky.
Sometimes all we can do is wait and understand that looking back the period of time will seem insignificant. That knowledge may be an easy comfort for small things like a theatre role or car repair, but maybe a lifeline for those struggling with grief or depression. Especially for young people who are not used to waiting for so much as a weather report, it has to be the hardest simple lesson there is: that time will pass. And at the end of that time is something worth waiting for.


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Poetry Friday: "Shop Vac"

Another in the songs as poetry series, Shop Vac by Jonathan Coulton was requested specifically for inclusion by TeenReader. Well, it is a favorite of our family. Suburban angst, yo.
We took the freeway out of town
We found a place to settle down
We bought a driveway and a swingset and a dog
You got your very own bathroom
I got my very own workshop in the basement
We sit around staring at the wall-to-wall
Take field trips to our favorite mall
Waiting for the day
When all the kids grow up and leave us here

So if you need me
I'll be downstairs
With the shop vac
You can call but I probably won't hear you
Because it's loud with the shop vac on
But you'll be OK
Cause you'll be upstairs
With the TV
You can cry and I probably won't hear you
Because it's loud with the shop vac on




Check out the Poetry Friday offerings with our host Ed at Think Kid, Think!.


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48 Hour Book Challenge: New Host

Thanks to Ms. Yingling everyone who needs their 48 Hour Book Challenge fix will - I repeat, WILL - be accommodated. Along with help from Abby the Librarian, they will bring that weekend of guilt-free reading your way starting on June 7th. Check back in with Ms. Yingling for details, and kudos to her for taking on the challenge behind the challenge of running the challenge. While I delayed in figuring out what to do with this community event, I am glad and grateful that it can continue. Read on, dedicated readers. Read on!

Thanks for all of your comments of support and friendship on My Most Morose Post. I feel ya, my blogging bros. At this point, I intend to post as I have books to share and things to say. But I felt that my slowing down was too obvious to not address in some way, especially in not arousing concern among regular readers. I swear that I am fine.

Lately I'm not often feeling either a rush from writing or a real satisfaction with having written. What I do feel, if I could pinpoint it at all, is a sense of anticipation. That there is something for which I need to prepare. Honestly, with my mom's poor health it could be a bad thing OR with my girls' successes academically and semi-professionally, it could be a good thing. Maybe it's a new direction for my own writing. Or it could be menopause, who knows?

Or there is this analogy. The V formation of migrating geese allows for reduction of wind resistance down the lines, and the birds take turns being in the front, falling back when they get tired. So guys, I'm admitting that I'm tired. But the other benefit of the formation is that allows the group to keep track of every bird, and I know that we do that for each other too. In fact, it's what I love best about our crazy connection of community we call the KidLitosphere. Fly on.


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I'm So Sorry

Look, I know I've been phoning it in and I know that you know I've been phoning it in, but what I don't know, really, is why. It's bigger than malaise and smaller than depression. It's not something drawing my interest elsewhere so much as not being interested in much of anything. Seriously, I don't want to do anything. Even reading seems... tiresome. The easiest, best part of my day is just hanging out with the girls hearing about their days at school. A close second is petting my cat for a questionably long time. These are not scenes that lead to grand plans.

With that, I've held off on such honesty here because I didn't know where to go with it. Such sentiments seem to require a statement of some sort. An ending. Or a renewed purpose. Yet I'm not ready to commit to either.

The only decision I've made is not to do the 48 Hour Book Challenge this June. I just... I just don't want to. I'd hoped that the possibility of Book Expo America would wake me up a bit, but I think I'll be skipping that as well.

This sounds melancholy, but it's important to say that while I am struggling with my feelings about blogging and reading and what-to-do-next, I'm happy about other things going on this year. Truly. My daughters have had wonderful successes in theatre, music, and academics. I'm so glad to be working again and within a mile of the school. In my job, I was able to shape the summer reading list for my Fair County, getting some great authors some exposure. Those are good things.

So I'm not sure that there was an essential purpose in writing this, except that I don't like to leave my people hanging - or worse, worrying. Nothing's really wrong, I just don't feel quite right. I'm not sure if in saying this that I'm asking for patience or forgiveness, or maybe just what I've always enjoyed in this community - friendship.

Blog on, friends. Blog on.



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