Why I Write For Children.

Yesterday, while I browsed through posts on my blog from 2015, I reread one I titled, Why I Write For Children. Three years have passed, and my reasons are still true today. Here is that post.

Earlier today, I visited a blog that invited writers to answer why they write for children. To answer the question, I only had to look at my daughter.

illustration by Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

From the time my little girl turned two, she rarely wanted me to read to her at bedtime. Instead, she asked me to tell a story I made up. She’d scrunch up the blankets in her hands, roll back her eyes, think of a character, a situation, and say, “Tell me a story about a princess with the sniffles. Ready? Set? Go! 

I had zero seconds to brainstorm a possible plot. No, not every story was good, and frankly, some lousy, but still, my daughter liked bedtime because of this game. I loved her widening eyes, her impish smile, and her wild applause when I finished.

I write for children because their world inspires me. My world, the world adults live in, is a serious, rule-filled world stuffed with responsibilities. Children openly love silliness. They accept the improbable and impossible. They thrive on magical and believe in happily ever after.

I write for children because the three-headed monster hanging out under their bed is as real to them as the bills on my desk are to me.

When I write for children, I think back to my childhood when my sister and I explored the forest around our house. A fallen tree became a ship we co-captained. Squirrels scurrying under leaves were distant pirates. A bird perched high in the branches was our lookout. Through the eyes of our parents, we were playing on a dead tree, risking infection from a splinter or a bite from a spider. Strange how they could never see the tree for more than it was.

I write for children because it’s what I love.

How To Write Better Story Details

Instead of a picture book review this Friday, I’ve chosen to share a favorite writing exercise I read about in an art book a while back. The instructions were straightforward: using a pencil or pen, fill the bottom of your page with a drawing of grass. It sounded simple enough. I sketched a row of haphazard, waving, wandering wisps across the bottom of my paper, thinking I’d captured grass-ness.

young grain

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Next, the instructions said to head outdoors and bring in a clump of grass, study it, and draw grass again. I dug a one-inch patch out of the corner of the lawn where I hoped it wouldn’t be noticed. Back inside at my desk, I brought out my magnifying glass and studied each blade. Clearly, I had missed some details in my earlier drawing. The blades of grass grew thin at the top where they reached a point and thicker in the middle. One of the blades had been nibbled by a hungry insect, leaving a tattered line along one edge. Another blade had a crease from being stepped upon. And at the base, where the roots disappeared into the earth, the deep green had faded away.

As a writer, I found this drawing exercise relevant. How often have I placed a story in a setting where I have never spent a minute or in a place I knew as a child but haven’t visited since? While I’m writing, I think I’m recalling the details of sight, sound, touch, and taste accurately. However, my descriptions, as it turns out, might be simplified, like my first drawing before I brought in the grass I dug from my lawn. So, what did I learn?

Set aside time to visit the location I’ve chosen for my story.

Take pictures from low on the ground and up high (if possible) for a bird’s-eye view.

Photograph as many details as possible.

Pull out my notebook and pen and jot down sensory details.

Make sketches of anything that interests me.

Video record with my cell phone so I can listen to and observe this place while I’m writing.

And, if visiting the location isn’t possible, do an internet search. Look up videos of the ocean, videos taken in space (if your picture book has a planetary setting), videos of farm life, etc… Google maps is also a great place to check out towns and cities on our globe you want the characters in your manuscript to interact with.

Let’s pretend my story is about two children who visit their grandparents near the sea. Let’s also pretend I live close enough to a beach to spend the day there.

I step onto the sand and take off my shoes. In my notebook, I write down the details about this moment.

The golden color of the sand, the warm temperature against my feet, the gritty, abrasive feel of crushed shells and sand beneath my feet.

I step into the ocean and notice…

The many colors of the blue and gray sky reflected on the surface, the foamy edges of the tide washing over the beach, a smooth seashell pushed up on the shore, the force of the waves washing against my legs, the roar of the waves, the cry of the seagulls, and the salty smell perfumed with a touch of fishiness… 

Before I leave the sea, I photograph the water pulling around a shell on the sand, a wave building in the distance, and the entire shoreline. I add a few more drawings into my sketchbook of a crab scraping over a stone in its path. Then, I fill a small container with sand and collect a few seashells to bring home along with the memories I have gathered.

I’m ready to write.

Until next Friday.

Perfect Picture Book Friday is Going Places!

When I was a child, my father brought home a box of Legos. The set held a handful of teeny-tiny plastic bricks, medium bricks, and others that were long, fat, and flat. The instruction booklet showed pictures for possible things the set could build. My sister made a tall, thin house with a steep roof. I built a short house with a flat roof. My Dad built a little plane. After we played with the toys we made, we snapped apart the bricks and saw what else we could build, using only our imaginations to guide us.

Flash forward: I’m married and have a daughter who has received an amazing Lego ship set for her seventh birthday. Her smile is bigger than a crescent moon. She lays out the instructions and stacks the Lego pieces into organized piles. For the next two hours, she builds that ship and sets it adrift in the middle of our coffee table. With a stern face, she instructs her dad and me NOT to touch it, NOT to play with it, and NOT to use the coffee table as she has repurposed it into a museum-grade, display table for her masterpiece.

YEARS have passed. The ship eventually sailed down to the basement where it is resting in drydock with other forgotten toys because…

there was nothing else the instructions said the Lego set could build but a ship.

Taking what we are given and seeing what other possibilities exist is the theme for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Title – Going Places – view on Amazon HERE.

Written by – Peter and Paul Reynolds

Illustrated by – Peter Reynolds

Published by – Scholastic Inc. – 2014

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  Thinking outside the box (literally).

Opening – Rafael had been waiting all year long for the Going Places contest, a chance to build a go-cart, race it…and win.

When their teacher announced, “Who would like the first kit?” Rafael’s hand shot up.

Why do I like this book? Going Places shows us that some people will see the picture on a kit and follow the instructions EXACTLY, while other kids will say, “That’s nice, but what else can I build?” Peter and Paul Reynolds have created a brilliant story that inspires and encourages everyone, no matter their age, to look waaay outside the box and fly!

Learn more about Peter and Paul Reynolds HERE.

Until next Friday!

Perfect Picture Book Friday gets close to nature.

Growing up in the country, nature surrounded me. Nature nested in sturdy branches, burrowed holes in my mother’s garden, nibbled juicy mulberries in the woods, made a cozy home beneath rotted logs, and glistened after a summer rain. Nature also found its way into our house where it climbed up the windows (thousands of ladybugs), thought it was okay to share my pillow (a long, hairy millipede), and nestled on the windowsill to dry its wings after hatching in my bedroom (a luna moth).

When I was about ten, I spotted a wasp nest under construction above our front door. Instead of swatting it down with the kitchen broom, my mother introduced nature to me as the precious gift it is. She brought out a pair of garden chairs from the garage and set them up within five feet of the wasps. That afternoon, we watched the winged architects increase the size of their home while we sipped iced tea and enjoyed the amazing show.

Watching nature is at the heart of today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Title – On Bird Hill – view on Amazon HERE.

Written by – Jane Yolen

Illustrated by – Bob Marstall

Published by – The Cornell Lab Publishing Group – 2016

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  observation, nature, birds,

Opening –

As I was walking on Bird Hill,

Though it was day, the moon shone still.

And on Bird Hill, I saw a tree,

As light and bright as it could be.

Why do I like this book? This rhyming picture book is written and illustrated in an amazing way. The reader begins with a broad view of nature. Then, page after page we are made aware that something wonderful is about to happen as we are moved in closer and closer to the big moment (which I will not spoil for you).

Learn more about Jane Yolen HERE.

Learn more about Bob Marstall HERE.

Until next Friday!

The Search Is On For Buried Treasure This Perfect Picture Book Friday!

When my sister and I were kids, we spent a number of sunny afternoons building outdoor rooms from twigs, rocks, and string in the forest. We imagined the spaces we had marked off were our neighboring homes. Sometimes, we sat on the backs of fallen trees, pretending to be sea captains of an imaginary sailing vessel. Once in a while, with fingers and twigs, we dug in the earth, hoping to find a small treasure.

In today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review, two boys do more than dig a little hole in their search for buried treasure…

Title – Sam & Dave Dig A Hole – view on Amazon HERE.

Written by – Mac Barnett

Illustrated by – Jon Klassen

Published by – Candlewick Press – 2014

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  Searching for treasure, determination, acceptance

Opening –

On Monday Sam and Dave dug a hole.

“When should we stop digging?” asked Sam.

“We are on a mission,” said Dave. “We won’t stop digging until we find something spectacular.”

Why do I like this book? This is one of those amazing stories in which the marriage between text and illustration become pure magic! Page after page, we wait for Sam and Dave to find the treasure they so desperately seek. And through the illustrations, we stay one agonizing step ahead of the determined treasure-seekers, stressing beyond belief! I’m not going to spoil the imaginative fun this story provides. I’ll only say that this book is a treasure worth seeking.

Learn more about Mac Barnett HERE.

Learn more about Jon Klassen HERE.

JUST FOR FUN! Hide tiny treasures and trinkets in a large, sand-filled, storage container in your backyard. Next, make a treasure map that leads kids to the treasure. Give them small plastic shovels and let them pretend to be Sam and/or Dave from today’s picture book story.

Until next Friday!

Perfect Picture Book Friday Fills Your Mouth With Ps (not peas).

When was the last time you had a mouthful of Ps? Yup, Ps not peas. Maybe this question has you thinking back to your childhood when you checked out a book of tongue twisters from your library that drove your tongue crazy. Remember Peter Piper who picked a peck of pickled peppers? And how about…

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood? He would chuck, he would, as much as he could and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Did you know that tongue twisters are used for articulation exercises by public speakers such as actors and television hosts?

Keep in mind that it isn’t how quickly you can say the tongue twister that counts, but how clearly you can enunciate the words.

Although today’s picture book isn’t written as a traditional tongue twister, the sheer number of words starting and containing Ps, makes it feel like one. So, without further ado, here is the mouthful of Ps I mentioned earlier–Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, a picture book packed with page after page of perfectly peachy, pleasing P words paired with other particularly pleasant-to-say P words.

Title – Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut – view on Amazon HERE.

Written by – Margaret Atwood

Illustrated by – Maryann Kovalski

Published by – Workman Publishing – 1995

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  Prideful snobbery, tolerance, acceptance

Opening –Princess Prunella lived in a pink palace with her pinheaded parents, Princess Patty and Prince Peter, her three plump pussycats, Patience, Prue and Pringle, and her puppy dog, Pug.

Like I said earlier, this book provides a mouthful of Ps. (There are 68 P’s on the next page alone!) 

Why do I like this book? When I first checked out this book, about five years ago, my daughter and I tried to see how tongue-tied we could get by reading this story as fast as possible. Try it, I can pretty much promise you a powerfully pleasing plethora of plentiful laughter. Having said that, reading a book in which the author has hand-selected as many P words as possible, makes for a positive reading experience. And the pretty illustrations are particularly pleasing, too!

Just for fun, try writing a tongue twister.

Choose a letter that you like the sound of.

Create a character whose first and last names start with that letter.

Make a list of nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives that start with that letter.

Try switching up the vowel sounds that follow the first letter like:

Peter picked a patch of pulpy potatoes.

Or… Find words with similar sounding vowel sounds like:

Carla carted cartons of carrots in her car.  

See if you can come up with a fun-to-say tongue twister.

Here’s the one I came up with.

Douglas Diffy daintily danced with his daffy dalmatian in his dusty dining room. 

Until next Friday!

Perfect Picture Book Friday Explores the Joys of Becoming a Pet Parent with “Mother Bruce”

I was, winding down at the end of a long day, feeling rather happy that bedtime was rolling around. My eyelids were gaining weight as they drooped ever further down. All the while, I was trying to fight off sleep long enough to get myself off the sofa and into bed when my daughter, who was about four at the time, screeched, “We HAVE to save the little froggy!”

“Excuse me?”

“Froggy!” She pops up and down, pointing at the patio window.

With his sweet green feet suctioned to the glass, the glow of our kitchen lights glinting in his golden eyes, the little treefrog, no bigger than my thumbnail, seemed to be looking in at us.

“SAAAAAAVE IT!!!!” my daughter shouted.

“Sweetie,” I said, stifling a yawn, “this little guy is going to be fine. He’s supposed to live outside in a world filled with yummy insects. Now, let’s go to bed.”

“What if he gets eaten during the night?” my daughter said in her most ominous tone. “You’ll be mad at yourself for not rescuing him. So, pleeeeeeease let’s save him.”

Are kids and puppies born with big eyes to give them the cuteness factor we often fall victim to?

“Okay,” I agreed. “The froggy can spend the night inside.”

“What about tomorrow and the next day?” my daughter asked. “What’s going to keep him from being eaten on those days? Huh?”

Flash forward to the pet store

Suitable terrarium  $20

Amphibian moss  $12

Ceramic bathing and drinking dish  $15

Sterilized branch  $8

Mini hammock with suction cups  $15

Two dozen crickets to feed to treefrog  $4

High calcium food for crickets  $5

5-gallon bucket to house crickets  $5

TREE FROG RESCUE $84

And speaking of becoming the mother to another species…

Today’s picture book review is of a book close to my heart…

Title – Mother Bruce – view on Amazon HERE.

Written and illustrated by – Ryan T. Higgins

Published by – Scholastic  2015

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  Tolerance, patience, parenting

Opening –Bruce was a bear who lived all by himself. He was a grump. He did NOT like rain. He did NOT like sunny days. He did NOT like cute little animals.

Amazon Review – Bruce the bear likes to keep to himself. That, and eat eggs. But when his hard-boiled goose eggs turn out to be real, live goslings, he starts to lose his appetite. And even worse, the goslings are convinced he’s their mother. Bruce tries to get the geese to go south, but he can’t seem to rid himself of his new companions. What’s a bear to do?

Why do I like this book? Humor, which appears in both the text and illustrations, is the key ingredient in this touching and hysterical picture book. Even if a child isn’t begging you to read this treasure over and over again, chances are, you’ll naturally flip back to page one and start again because it’s that entertaining.

Learn more about Ryan T. Higgins HERE.

If after reading this book, you’re in the mood for new ways to prepare eggs, check out these 50 egg recipes!  Click HERE.

And for those of you who want to follow in Bruce’s big, bear footsteps and raise geese, here is a site to help you take the next step. Click HERE.

Until next Friday!

Perfect Picture Book Friday Visits The Symphony

I didn’t post a picture book review last Friday for a perfectly wonderful reason. My college roommate from Lawrence University, where the two of us played violin in their symphony orchestra years ago, was playing in a concert with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, and…

Joshua Bell performed with them.

I vividly remember the day my friend asked if I wanted her to get me tickets.

Yes, Yes, a million times YES!

For years, I have admired and been inspired by Joshua Bell’s astounding talent. I dreamed of producing such sweet sounds from my violin. I practiced and tried not to get discouraged when my playing was compared to the squeal of a cat with its tail squeezed in a vice. I practiced day after day, smoothing out my tones. Eventually, I earned my place in a symphony. My proud father rewarded me for my hard work with a beautiful violin he spent years making. Today when I play the violin, joy bubbles up in my heart because the music singing out is mine, and creating it thrills me. But when I listened to and watched Joshua Bell perform, I realized playing the violin gave him something greater–it completed him. Through his violin, he lets the world hear his voice, know his feelings, and glimpse into his soul.

As the smooth, surreal sounds filled the concert hall, I reminded myself to breathe. Then, I glanced around to see I wasn’t the only one blinking back tears. I reached over to hold my twelve-year-old daughter’s hand. “How are you liking the music, sweetie?”

She leaned against my arm. “You know how much I love listening to Katy Perry?”

I nodded.

“This is better,” she said.

Because of the unforgettable concert when my dear friend shared the stage with Joshua Bell, I would like to introduce you to a picture book that, through precisely chosen words and brilliant illustrations, offers a lively look at the orchestra.

Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss.

Title – Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin – view on Amazon Here.

Written by – Lloyd Moss (1926-2013)

Illustrated by – Marjorie Priceman

Published by – Aladdin Paperbacks  edition 2000  (text and illustration copyright 1995)

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  music and learning about the instruments in an orchestra

Opening –

With mournful moan and silken tone,

Itself alone comes ONE TROMBONE.

gliding, sliding, high notes go low;

ONE TROMBONE is playing SOLO.

Amazon Review – The Caldecott Honor book, now in paperback!
With mournful moan and silken tone,
itself alone comes ONE TROMBONE…

Then a trumpet joins in to become a duet; add a French horn and voila! you have a trio — and on it goes until an entire orchestra is assembled on stage. Lloyd Moss’s irresistible rhymes and Marjorie Pricemans’s energetic illustrations make beautiful music together — a masterpiece that is the perfect introduction to musical instruments and musical groups, and a counting book that redefines the genre.

Why do I like this book? Musical instruments each have their own distinctive voice. Describing an instrument’s voice through words often falls flat to the actual sound. But when I read each stanza dedicated to a musical instrument, I found that Lloyd Moss demonstrates a “fine-tuned” understanding of the particular sound each instrument produces and found perfect words to bring each one to life. And…offering the absolute, hands down, most perfect accompaniment to the text, one of my very favorite illustrators, Marjorie Priceman, was chosen to create the art. Her style is expressive. Her illustrations burst with intense colors and freedom. Her lines are more fluid than cursive handwriting.

Learn about Lloyd Moss HEREThis is an incredible post about the author that includes the story of how this special book came to be.

Learn about Marjorie Priceman HERE.

Listen to Joshua Bell play O Mio Babbino Caro by Giacomo Puccini HERE.

Joshua Bell plays the theme song to the movie, Ladies in Lavender HERE.

Discussion with children – watch videos on your computer or check them out at the library of music performed by various solo instruments. Then, play a piece of classical music performed by an orchestra and see how many instruments children can recognize.

Ask children if they can describe the sound each instrument makes in sounds and words.

DANCE TIME! – While listening to various musical pieces, make space in a room for a little creative “dance” time. Let children explore with their hands, arms, feet, legs, and bodies what direction the music takes them.

DRAWING TIME! -Spread out large sheets of paper, markers, and colored pencils or crayons. This time, while listening to expressive pieces of music, encourage children to show, with lines, shapes, and squiggles, how the music ‘looks’ to them if it were a picture.

If you know of other picture books that explore music, I hope you’ll share them in the comments.

Until next Friday!

Heart is everything in today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of Pandora.

I was about four years old at the time, sitting under the dining room table, surrounded by wooden boxes that brimmed with colorful Legos. The forest-green, woven tablecloth draped over the sides like a tent. A sunbeam streamed through the window beside me, warming the place where I sat. Snap! Click! The walls of my Lego house rose brick by brick, taller and taller.

I was a young architect who didn’t understand the basics of construction. I snapped the next brick in place, the walls of my little house fell, and I didn’t know why. My father walked by, though all I saw were his wrinkled work pants and leather shoes. I called to him to help me. Dad crouched down, examined my poor construction, and offered encouraging, consoling words as he bent his head to fit in the small space beside me. Brick by brick, the walls of the Lego house grew taller and taller…

…and stayed!

Dad was my hero.

Over the remaining years of my childhood, my adolescence, and my adult years until the day I lost him, Dad remained my hero – the man who could fix anything I broke and could help me understand anything I couldn’t figure out. Dad always helped me with kindness, patience, and the sort of hug I wished could last forever.

Today’s Perfect Picture Book review is about the deep desire to fix what is broken.

Title – Pandora

Written and illustrated by – Victoria Turnbull

Published by – Clarion Books – 2017

Topic – compassion, hope, friendship

Opening – 

Pandora lived alone,

in a land of broken things.

She made herself a handsome home

from all that people had left behind.

But no one ever came to visit.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Pandora lives alone, in a world of broken things. She makes herself a handsome home, but no one ever comes to visit. Then one day something falls from the sky
. . . a bird with a broken wing.
Little by little, Pandora helps the bird grow stronger. Little by little, the bird helps Pandora feel less lonely. The bird begins to fly again, and always comes back—bringing seeds and flowers and other small gifts. But then one day, it flies away and doesn’t return. Pandora is heartbroken.
Until things begin to grow . . .

Here is a stunningly illustrated celebration of connection and renewal.

Learn more about Victoria Turnbull HERE.

Why I love this book: I’m continually drawn to those whose hearts shine through everything they do. Pandora has such a heart. The illustrations are as powerful as the story and add an important emotional level. I must confess, this is a book I have enjoyed countless times, and I know the next time I read it, I will enjoy it again.

 Until next Friday!

Perfect Picture Book Friday Wishes Happy Birthday to Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Today is a special day in many ways. Yes, today is Perfect Picture Book Friday, but it is also Poetry Friday and the birthday of the beloved poet and anthologist, Lee Bennett Hopkins whose poetry anthology book, School People, I recently shared with you. If you want to join in the birthday celebration for Lee, the party is well underway over at Robyn Hood Black’s blog.

Lee Bennett Hopkins

As you probably guessed, today’s picture book review is a poetry anthology- a book of poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins about a place that is dear to my heart.

The library.

I came from a serious, book-loving family. My father designed and helped build the house I grew up in, and instead of wallpaper, Dad cut and sanded looooong pieces of wood for floor to ceiling and wall to wall bookshelves. Those shelves were deep enough to hold two or three rows of books–and they did!

Imagine pulling a book off of a shelf and finding another book behind it and another book behind that one. Owning thousands of books seemed normal to me.

Dad was fond of saying, “When I have a little money, I buy books. If I have a little money left, I buy more books.

I figured everyone lived in a house filled floor to ceiling and wall to wall with books until I was invited over to a friend’s house back in the first grade. Dad had taught me that I can learn much about a person from their books. So, I was naturally excited to learn more about my friend, Carol, from the books she and her family piled, gathered, and stacked on their shelves. But the first thing I noticed at Carol’s house was NO books! (No books except the one they kept in their bathroom.) I wanted to go home because her house didn’t feel like a home to me. I didn’t care that Carol had piles of games and stuffed animals to play with. I simply wondered how anyone could be happy in a house without books.

“Dad!” I said when he picked me up later that afternoon, “I thought people were supposed to buy books when they had a little money. Carol and her family must be stone poor because they don’t have any books!”

Dad took my hand in his. “I know a place that has more books than we have at home.”

“Can you take me there?”

That afternoon, Dad introduced me to a place I have come to think of as my second home–a place with friendly, knowledgeable people who went out of their way to find the book I wanted to read, find more books on subjects I was interested in, helped me  navigate the card catalogue, and always made me feel welcome.

Yup! I’m talking about the library.

In honor of the library, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Poetry Friday, and Lee Bennett Hopkin’s 80th birthday, I’d like to share a special book of poems dedicated to the library.

Title – Jumping Off Library Shelves

Poems selected by – Lee Bennett Hopkins

Illustrated by – Jane Manning

Published by – WordSong – 2015

Topic – poems, the library, books

Opening –  I’ll only include part of this poem with hopes you will visit your library to find this treasure of a book and read on. 

Breakfast Between the Shelves by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Morning pours spoons of sun

through tall windows, rests along

a reading chair, a copper rail;

hovers over crumbs, small supper scraps

left by those who opened books

last night, to live in story.

Mice scamper

between shelves,

pass poems

like platters of cheese;

Please read this about Owl!

And this about Giant!

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Here is the library, not just as a place that houses books, but as an experience. Fifteen poems celebrate the thrill of getting your first library card, the excitement of story hour, the fun of using the computer, the pride of reading to the dog, and the joy of discovering that the librarian understands you and knows exactly which books you’ll love. The poems, compiled by noted poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins, pay homage to the marvels of books and reading. Accompanied by Jane Manning’s colorful, imaginative illustrations, this collection lyrically celebrates the magic of libraries.

 I like this book because… the fifteen poems gathered like friends between the covers of this anthology express the happiness I have always felt, and still feel, about a visit to the library. Each poem serves as an ingredient which, alone or combined, conjures up childhood memories like the magic of a bulging bag of books, the pride I felt when I held my first library card, learning about faraway places and people-fictitious and real. This collection of poems paints a clear picture of the place I call my “other home.”
Happy Birthday, Lee Bennett Hopkins! I’m glad I got to meet you through the Highlights Poetry workshop, taught by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.  Your passion for poetry is delightfully contagious. Hugs and heartfelt thanks,
Leslie Leibhardt Goodman
Until next Friday!