This Perfect Picture Book Friday, I Share the Lovely Poetry of Joyce Sidman.

The world outside my window is preparing to change scenes from the vast summer greens to the glowing pallet of autumn’s fiery golds. Watching the magical changes of nature and the hustle and bustle of the animals, preparing for winter, inspires me to write poetry. Yes, even Bob, my faithful backyard squirrel, is filling up his winter stash with the nuts and seeds I set outside for him each morning. Instead of perching on the plate to nibble his treats, Bob fills his cheeks before scampering back to his tree, only to return moments later to collect more food for the coming winter months.

Being true to who I am, I worry about Bob. With my move at the start of next week, I wonder if the new owners will continue to care for my bushy-tailed squirrel. Knowing my love for the backyard animals in my care, a friend of mine offered to live capture Bob, his family, cousins, and friends and transport them to my new address. (Thank you, Don, I’d like that very much.)

For this week’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, I chose to share a book by one of my favorite poets, Joyce Sidman, whose thoughtful rhymes are sure to enchant you. A poetry book isn’t complete without illustrations that stand on their own as treats for the eyes to behold. I promise you will become equally captivated with the artwork of Beth Krommes, the illustrator whose talents you’ll find on every page.

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow by [Joyce Sidman, Beth Krommes]

Title – Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow

Written by- Joyce Sidman

Illustrated by  – Beth Krommes

Suitable for ages – 8 to 12 (Although intended for children, I believe everyone can treasure these poems.)

Topics/theme – Children’s poetry, Meadow animals, nature.

Opening – Here is the first stanza from the poem, In the Almost-Light

In the dark, in the night,

in the almost-light,

in the leaf-crisp air just before sunlight,

sprouts a secret, silent, sparking sight:

berries grown on the vines of night.

Synopsis from Amazon – Discover the hidden world of the meadow in this unique combination of poetry riddles and science wisdom. Beginning with the rising sun and ending with twilight, this book takes us on a tour through the fields, encouraging us to watch for a nest of rabbits, a foamy spittlebug, a leaping grasshopper, bright milkweed, a quick fox, and a cruising hawk.

Why do I like this book? To describe Joyce Sidman’s poems, I would compare each one to a beautiful painting unfolding before one’s eyes. Her metaphors will have you saying, “Yes! If I had everything in the world to choose from, this is the perfect likeness to the morning air, the velvety horns of the deer, the dry earth, and the fluff-filled pods of the milkweed. Adding to the magic of each poem are Beth Krommes’s lovingly-created, scratchboard illustrations that are genuinely marvel-worthy.

Learn more about Joyce Sidman HERE.

Learn more about Beth Krommes HERE.

I chose a few links to get you started for those intested in learning about scratchboard art,

Russ McMullin’s Scratchboard Tutorial HERE.

An easy-to-follow video that’s perfect for kids and parents HERE.

And one more kid-friendly, scratchboard tutorial HERE.

I hope you’ll visit me next week for another PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY.

Leslie

Raven Howell – The Promised Interview and Winner Announcement!

Due to an unforeseen situation, I’m posting my blog early this week.

As promised last week for Perfect Picture Book Friday, I invited the author and poet of Glimmer -Sing of Sun! and Chuckles and Smiles to visit my blog for an interview today. And… I asked her to choose two people from those who left a comment to each win one of her magical books of poetry.

Raven’s son jumped in to lend a hand and chose the winner lottery style. Drum role please. The winners are….

Ann Wendell and Linda Dryfout!

(An email will be sent out to each of you shortly.)

Without further adeau, please welcome Raven Howell.

I’m glad you could be here today. Can you take us back to the exact moment you knew you wanted to write poems for children?  

If you were to ask my beloved grandmother, she would probably tell you about my being born with the poetry bug fluttering about inside of my heart. Apparently I was making up and reciting poems and rhymes aloud before I went to kindergarten and learned how to write. She would spend my pre-school days at home with me and whenever possible, jot down my poetry and stories, those rhymes and sing-songs that sprang from my imagination. 

Zoning in on writing specifically for children happened almost 30 years ago when I left the music business and had success with writing verse for greeting cards.

What were the first steps you took to begin your journey toward your first publication? 

As a youngster, my mother submitted my poetry for magazine publication. Later I published songs as a songwriter (my lyrics were in a poetry format) in my teens and twenties before having my poetry published for various whimsical greeting card companies. After that I focused on writing for children’s magazines. Finally, I transitioned into writing and the publishing of my books. So my first steps were less relevant on their own, and the journey was more about the evolution and progression for me.

What is the most challenging or favorite aspect of creating a collection of poems? 

My favorite thing about poetry collections is that there is much more room for me to “paint outside of the lines” as opposed to when writing a fictional story or non-fiction. Poetry inherently allows more freedom. I get to play with words, delve deeper into enchanting themes if I want, express my vision/style, and have fun!

An idea for a poem pops into your head. (I love it when that happens.) Take us through the steps you take to write a poem.  

MUSHROOM NAPS from Chuckles and Smiles / Morning dog walk, I spot some wonderfully fairy-like mushrooms that have sprouted in a tree stump. The air smells of earth. Morning dove sings in the brilliant sunrise. It’s me, the dog, and the mushrooms. Hmmm…who else is with us? Who else would be enjoying the mushroom life? Little bugs! And certainly they are small enough to fit under those spongy mushroom tops. Inspiration! Look – there’s a beetle! “Mushrooms wear those spongy caps for little shaded buggy naps.”

Where do you most love to write and what makes this place special to you? 

For over two decades now, I’ve found my “writing nook”, my space to create and write and be inspired in a most unusual place – a solo early dawn hike that I take into the mountains just outside of the village. These years, having a cell phone (and the Notes app) with me makes the writing aspect easier! At first, I’d be trying to recall the verses and ideas dancing around in my head when I returned home, sometimes with success, sometimes without. 

What could NOT be special about a dawn nature hike? Wooded paths, the fading stars, critter chirps, the gentle sunrays kissing the mountainside…

For each manuscript I’ve written, I remember the Ah-Ha moment that sent me running to my laptop to type up my ideas. Can you share the source of inspiration for one of your books? 

An “Ah-ha” moment? When a couple of years after illustrator Carina Povarchik and I released our successful Glimmer, Songs of Night nighttime-themed poetry collection, I realized I had written probably about 3 dozen poems of the opposite theme: whimsical poems about subjects relating to light, the sun, and daytime wonder. It appeared we were meant to have a companion book to our Glimmer! And our editor agreed – ha! It was exciting to collect those poems for the book, and an “Ah-ha” moment for sure.

What surprised you most on your writing path from the book idea to its publication? 

There’s little that I could say surprised me in general. When it comes down to it, you are in control of some aspects, and not others when you work with a team of editors, illustrators, an agent, etc. I was surprised when I found the font for the dyslexic version of my rhyming picture book, My Community was just as easy to read for someone without dyslexia. I suppose I expected the letters to be shaped differently.  

I’ll add, with my new book, Chuckles and Smiles, the editors’ choice of illustrator Jordan Wray to collaborate and create the most wonderful, befitting artwork surprised me most! I had no inkling, no forethought that the artwork would visually push the poetry to life in the way it did. There was very little we asked Jordan to edit or change. He just got my ideas from the start – and jumped on board the chuckle train.

If you could go back to the first months of your writing journey, knowing what you know today, what advice would you give to yourself? 

Well, first, I’m big on practicing forgiveness, and I try hard to include myself in this. So, I see it this way: it wouldn’t be fair for me to tell my 20 year old self to pay more attention to what’s going on from a 5-year old’s point of view or write from a parental advice angle. That’s just not where I was creatively situated at that point in my life. I NEEDED those years of adolescent complaint poetry, those poetry journals of my twenties that I filled with the ups and downs of love, or the bone-tired poetry from my thirty-something new mom hands learning a brand new role in life. 

What advice I would give to any poet at any age in life is to write from your heart, write what you know, experiment with various formats and keep digging into and staying true to your own specific style. You may come across many who criticize your work. That’s ok. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Still, that doesn’t mean you should change your vision if the one you have feels like home to you and you’re passionate about it.

What was the best comment or reaction you received from a child about one of your books or poems? 

Last year two students in different schools and locations reached out to tell me my poetry inspired them to write and publish their own poetry books! 

Can you share something interesting or unexpected most people don’t know about you?

My adolescent crushes were Cider House Rules (among many other books) author John Irving (whom I’ve met!) and Elton John lyricist, Bernie Taupin.  No doubt, in a subtle way, their words influenced my own writing.

In everyday moments- a baby’s laughter, a joyful tear or toddler frown, a kite stuck in a sugar maple, in the joy of eating chocolate chip cookie dough, in the creak of Grandfather’s rocking chair, in the scent of summer jasmine, the bee sting, or the heart-thudding bang of a thunder clap, there’s a poem to be uncovered and shared. To me, poetry is a creative interpretation, the echo of wonder and inspiration, the celebration of life!

Raven’s website includes great links! www.ravenhowell.com
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/raven.howell.75/
Author FB page: https://www.facebook.com/RavenHowellAuthorandPoetPage/?view_public_for=456558957829379
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pickward/boards/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/atpearthkeeper
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/atpearthkeeper/

Many thanks for visiting here today.

Until next Friday.

Two Amazing Prizes + Two Poetry Books to Love This Perfect Picture Book Friday!

My love of writing poems goes clear back to my childhood when I made up little rhymes about my sleepy cat who napped in the darkness under my bed, a poky cactus in a dish on my windowsil, and a too-long car ride to visit relatives. Little thing that caught my attention became immortalized in a poem.

Years later, filled with the gained knowledge from several poetry courses, my love of writing poems continues daily. My shelves all but burst with the books of my favorite poets, including two poetry collections by Raven Howell which I’m happy to share with you today.

And yes, today’s post comes with the chance for two lucky people to each win one of Raven’s poetry books. Just leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for a chance. I’ll announce the winner next Friday when Raven will be visiting here for a fun interview!

Frozen

The pond is still frozen,
We scamper across.
We slip and slide
And skid ont the gloss.
Holding tightTo each other’s coat sleeves,
We peer thoug the ice
At the frozen brown leaves,
Silent and still
Some caught in mid-swim,
Stuck in freeze tab
‘Til the melt of sun’s whim.

Title – Glimmer – Sing of Sun!

Written by – Raven Howell

Illustrated by – Carina Povarchik

Published by – Clear Fork Publishing – 2019

Suitable for ages – 3-8

Theme – Poetry, nature, playtime

Glimmer – Sing of Sun! Amazon Review –  HERE Burst to bright adventures where vivid colors sprout, the sun paints the sky, and days are strawberry-scented. Creating a landscape of light, this picture poetry book transforms the ordinary in life to glimmering significance. Written and illustrated by collaborating team Raven Howell and Carina Povarchik, this collection is a joyful and imaginative companion book to Howell and Povarchik’s Shimmer, Songs of Night. 

Why do I like this book? In her book, Glimmer – Sing of Sun! Raven found inspirations for her poems in nature, one of my favorite escapes. She chose to write about such unexpected topics as a breath of sun and a pair of sky artists through her refreshing way of seeing and hearing the world. Raven even takes the reader on an outdoor quest over hills and logs, down to Ribbit Pond for a special discovery. You’ll find lots to love in this book of uplifting, inventive, and fresh poetry. And did I mention that the illustrations by Carina Povarchik add an explosion of color and happiness both kids and adults will ooh and ahh over?

The second of Raven’s books I’m sharing is Chuckles and Smiles in which the poems share the goal of giving children laughter and oodles of reasons to smile.

Squirrel

Bulb digger,
nest rigger,
seed stacker,
nut cracker,
tree stalker,
fence walker,
food stasher,
birdhouse crasher.
Dog chased–
making HASTE!

Title – Chuckles and Smiles

Written by – Raven Howell

Illustrated by – Jordan Wray

Published by – Warren Publishing – 2020

Suitable for ages – 3-8

Theme – Humorous poetry for children.

Chuckles and Smiles Amazon Review – HERE In this sweet collection of children’s poems, Raven Howell reveals all the little things in life that put smiles on children’s faces like playing with sock puppets, walking barefoot on warm grass, and dreaming of butterflies during a thunderstorm. Colorful illustrations by international illustrator, Jordan Wray, evoke the warmth and joy felt during childhood through their light and carefree style. Written with whimsy and fun, this book charmingly reminds child and parent alike that the power of laughter delivers happiness.

Why do I like this book? Raise your hand if you’re looking for a book that can deliver levity and laughter into a child’s life. Perfect! Because the second book of Raven’s, that I’m sharing, is appropriatly titled Chuckles and Smiles. with page after page of sweet, silly, giggle-worthy, kid-pleasing poems. Now, take those 26 poems and bring them together with the lively pieces of art created by Jordan Wray and you’ve got yourself a winner!

Learn more about Raven Howell HERE.

Learn about Carina Povarchik (illustrator for Glimmer – Sing of Sun!) HERE.

Learn about Jorday Wray (illustrator of Chuckles and Smiles) HERE.

And don’t forget that today’s post comes with the chance for two lucky people to each win one of Raven’s poetry books. Just leave a comment below to be entered into the drawing. Mark your calendar for the 18th, because Raven will be visiting here for both an interview and the announcement of the winners!

See you soon!

Leslie

Mother Goose Meets Your Favorite Vehicle This Perfect Picture Book Friday!

One of my critique groups focuses solely on writing children’s poetry. I’m one of four ladies that meet once a month to share and critique ten new poems we’ve each written. I’m not kidding when I tell you I find it challenging to write ten new (and hopefully clever) poems month after month. However, the challenge is met with an equal amount of fun. Some poems start out with a bang! A great idea turns into line after line of sheer childhood wonder. Other poems. . . Well, there’s no better word I can think of. Other poems I try to write stink. Delete, delete, delete.

Obviously, new poems require inspiration. Where do I find inspiration?

  • I drive to my library and hang out in the children’s play area, observing and listening.
  • I sit at the playground and watch the kids interact.
  • I also use photographs as springboards.

Anything and everything can become the subject of a poem.

Another way I find inspiration is from writing out topic lists. Here are some of my headings.

  • What do children love?
  • What do children learn at school?
  • What games do they like to play?
  • What do kids notice that adults don’t?
  • What do children want more than anything?
  • What do children wish they are big enough to do?
  • What do children believe?
  • What are they afraid of?
  • What foods do they love?
  • What foods would they rather never see on their plates?
  • What pets do children want for a birthday present?
  • What are their fantasies and dreams?
  • Write about a child’s visit to a new place.
  • What can happen on weekend with their grandparents?
  • Write about a new skill a child learns, like fishing with their dad.

Today, I want to share an amazing, innovating, highly creative book of poems written by Rebeca Colby. Her inspiration? Enlightening children about the uses of a variety of vehicles from a submarine to an airplane and everything in between.  And one more thing . . .  All her poems can be sung to favorite, classic nursery rhymes. Now that’s what I call a fun book to share with a child!

Title – Motor Goose

Written by – Rebecca Colby

Illustrated by – Jef Kaminsky

Published by – Feiwel and Friends – 2017

Topics – poems about vehicles, nursery rhymes

Opening –  

 

Little Jack Junker (Little Jack Horner)

Little Jack Junker,

broken-down clunker,

surprised all the cars

in the race.

‘Cause right from the start,

he lost part after part,

yet he finished the race

in first place.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Wonderful rhymes and VEHICLES! Here is a collection that every car/plane/boat/crane/digger/taxi/train-loving kid will adore. With hilarious artwork by Jef Kaminsky, Motor Goose is a must-have for readers who like things that go. And as the rhymes progress, the day winds down, making this perfect for bedtime.

Why do I like this book? The poems are ingenious, unexpected, and downright FUNNY! If you love to laugh and you enjoy sheer cleverness on a genius level, this book is for you. Rebecca Colby clearly researched each vehicle she built into a poem and educates children in a highly entertaining manner. And yes, the addition of bright, colorful, illustrations created with humor and the right amount of attitude by Jef Kaminsky, compliment the poetry to perfection!

Just for fun – Take a kid-friendly topic of interest to you, add to it your favorite nursery rhyme, and see what magic you can create!