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!

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

We’ve all had a day when life dominos upon us–a day that maybe starts with the garbage disposal making a funny, clanking, crunching (expensive) sound. The repairman comes and extracts a plastic bottle cap which has bounced in unseen. He charges $75 for the visit. Then, you need something at the grocery store, but the car battery is somewhat dead because someone left the light on in the car all night. Your neighbor gives you a jump start, but when you get back home from shopping, the garage door won’t open. Is the battery dead in the opener? Too simple. Darker forces are at work… The repairman comes and announces that your spring has snapped, and he wants a few hundred dollars to replace it.

Tired from the sheer excitement of the day, you shift your washed laundry into the dryer and take a nap to the soothing sound of tumbling clothes. Thirty minutes later, you wake to a funny smell and a bit of smoke, streaming from the laundry room. Thankfully, you rescue your clothes before they turn to ashes. When the repairman comes, he lets you know your vent is packed with lint. $150 later, it’s clearly time to settle down with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. You fill the little basket with your favorite, hazelnut-vanilla grounds, add water, press the start button, and take your dog outside while you wait. When you come back inside, a gushing sound has you running into the kitchen to find you forgot to put the pot under the coffee maker’s spout.

If you’ve ever had one of those days when EVERYTHING that can go wrong does go wrong, you’ll love the humor in the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst.

Title – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Written by – Judith Viorst

Illustrated by – Ray Cruz

Published by – Aladin Paperbacks – 1972

Topic – Having a bad day

Opening – I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on a skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.le

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. The perennially popular tale of Alexander’s worst day is now a board book that belongs on every child’s bookshelf.

Alexander is not having a great day. He has to endure gum in his hair, sitting in the middle of the backseat, third-best-friend status, no dessert at lunch, lima beans, railroad pajamas, and kissing on TV—all in one day! Maybe he’ll just move to Australia.

This funny and endearing story has delighted readers for more than forty years

 Why do I like this book? Simply, because this is a story many people can relate to. I adore the humor which comes from both the text and illustrations which clearly show Alexander’s disgust and dismay during his very bad day.
Until next Friday!

Perfect Picture Book Friday heads out to sea with The Storm Whale by Benji Davies.

When it comes to helping injured animals, my heart holds a soft spot that can’t be measured. This condition showed itself when I was quite young. As you know from previous blog posts, this is an inherited condition (precious gift) I received from my mother. I’m fairly certain that if my father wouldn’t have objected so strenuously, Mom would have opened the front door to welcome in all the furry critters inhabiting the woods surrounding our home. Thinking back, I would have gladly set out extra plates on our table for them all.

Years later, my heart hasn’t changed.  I’m the bird whisperer who cradles dazed birds in tissue-lined shoe boxes after they have hit the windows, calming them with soothing words. I’m the “strange lady” who has been seen purchasing baby mice from the pet shop where the defenseless darlings are sold as food for snakes. And I am the rescue girl who has climbed down window wells in spring to save tree frogs that can’t make it up and out. Having shared this, I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise that animal rescue stories, nonfiction or fiction like the one I am sharing today, are dear to me.

Image result for images of the storm whale

 

Title – The Storm Whale

Written and illustrated by – Benji Davies

Published by – Henry Holt and Company – 2013

Topics – Animal rescue, compassion, understanding

Opening – Noi lived with his dad and six cats by the sea. 

Every day, Noi’s dad left early for a long day’s work on his fishing boat. He wouldn’t be home again till dark.

One night, a great storm raged around their house. In the morning, Noi went down to the beach to see what had been left behind. As he walked along the shore, he spotted something in the distance.

 

Illustration from The Storm Whale

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Noi and his father live in a house by the sea, his father works hard as a fisherman and Noi often has only their six cats for company. So when, one day, he finds a baby whale washed up on the beach after a storm, Noi is excited and takes it home to care for it. He tries to keep his new friend a secret, but there’s only so long you can keep a whale in the bath without your dad finding out. Noi is eventually persuaded that the whale has to go back to the sea where it belongs. For Noi, even though he can’t keep it, the arrival of the whale changes his life for the better

 Why do I like this book? If you want a clear picture of Noi, the little boy in this story whose heart is as immense as the whale he sets out to rescue, take an ocean of kindness and stir in an endless river of thoughtfulness.
With his father out fishing at sea until supper time, Noi does his absolute best to make the baby whale feel at home. Aside from keeping the whale happy in his bathtub, Noi plays Handel’s water music for the ultimate in listening enjoyment, gives him a reassuring touch on his back, and talks to him. (And this is all in the incredible illustrations.) I won’t spoil the ending–the part that reveals what Noi’s father does when he discovers the whale. I will, however, say that Noi’s dad does not react as my father would have. Between the story and the illustrations, my heart experienced the squeeze of a perfect hug. I hope you’ll read this loving book by Benji Davies.
To learn more about Benji Davies, the author and illustrator of The Storm Whale, click HERE.
Would you like to hear the music Noi played for the baby whale? Here is a recording of Handel’s Water Music. Listen
To hear the song of whales like the one Noi rescued, listen HERE.
Art projects
How to make an origami (paper folding) whale. Here.
How to upcycle an egg carton to make a super cute whale. Here.
Until next Friday!

Perfect Picture Book Friday Shares “School People” by Poet and Anthologist, Lee Bennett Hopkins.

I’m sorry I didn’t review a picture book last Friday, but after a visit to the podiatrist that day, I learned I have a stress fracture. Apparently, it’s the sort of thing that can happen without dropping a safe or dining room table on your foot. I had no idea walking (a lot) could bring this about.

Being on crutches again after many years, brought me back to my elementary school days when I needed these infernal sticks after knee surgery. Not including the sore arm muscles, inconvenience, and frustration of getting from class to class and up and down the school bus steps SAFELY, I thought back to my other school memories during that time–the pleasant ones. I thought about the teachers who encouraged me and allowed me extra time to get to class, the bus driver who lend a helping hand on and off of the bus, and the librarian who suggested a joke book to keep me smiling.

For today’s picture book Friday review, I’d like to share a collection (anthology) of school themed poetry written by a collection of gifted poets. And the man who contributed to and selected the poems for this book is none other than Lee Bennett Hopkins. Mr. Hopkins is an award-winning poet whose countless accomplishments and list of people whose lives he has touched, including my own, would fill volumes. I can’t say enough about this talented man whom I had the honor of meeting through Skype last fall at a Highlights poetry workshop.

And now it’s time to wander back in time to our elementary school days through the poems in the picture book, School People.

Title – School People

Poetry selected by – Lee Bennett Hopkins  leebennetthopkins.com

Illustrated by – Ellen Shi   www.ellenshi.com

Published by – WordSong – 2018

Topics – Poetry, School people, the way we see others.

Opening – School’s Story – A poem by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, one of my instructors at the Highlights poetry workshop I mentioned above.

(I’m only including part of this ingeniously thought out poem with hopes you will check out this book to enjoy the rest…)

I am waiting–come on in!

Welcome to this house of brick.

Enter whispers, whistles, signs,

footsteps, fossils, notebook lines.

Rooms hold calendars, chairs, and nooks,

murals, maps, library books.

Feet scamper, shuffle, dash, drum.

Listen to my hallway hum!

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Welcome to school, a building of brick “full of soul and heart,” eager for students and staff to fill its halls with sounds. This anthology of fifteen poems celebrates the grown-up people that children encounter throughout the course of their school day: the school bus driver with her morning smile, the teacher who inspires imagination, the rarely seen, yet caring custodian, and the nurse who heals hurts, big and small. There’s even a poem about the school building. Award-winning poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins has compiled this marvelous collection featuring a variety of brand-new works by well-known poets and beautifully imaginative artwork by illustrator Ellen Shi.

 Why do I like this book? The poems I love best evoke emotions, tickle my memories, stop me, get me thinking, let me hear, see, taste, smell, and touch something, startle me with surprisingly perfect comparisons, end with a twist, bring a smile, cause a tear, and stay with me long after I have turned the page. Through Lee Bennett Hopkin’s collection, I experienced all of this as memories came crawling, running, and tumbling out of the cobwebby corners of my mind. I hope you will run (not walk) to the nearest library or bookshop to immerse yourself in the poems that fill this book.
Click on the links below to learn more about the poets whose poems are included in the book, School People.
I hope you’ll share an elementary school memory in the comments below about a special teacher, a time you shared with your best friend, an unforgettable school project, something about your homeroom pet, or other fond memory from those days.
Until next Friday!

Acrostic Poems Meet Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Last month I had the immense pleasure of attending a Highlights Foundation poetry workshop in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania. I honestly thought the dream of taking one of their classes would remain a dream. After all, Pennsylvania isn’t exactly up the road from me. And let’s not forget that I’d be away for a full week, leaving my husband and daughter to fend for themselves.

I’m happy to report that the pets of our small zoo were alive when I returned home. However, the dog looked thinner from a lack of treats, the laundry hadn’t been taken care of, and confessions revealed that “snack night” replaced dinner a few times…

I drove up with a friend from my poetry critique group for a writing experience that changed the way I look at the world, poetry, and writing. Since the workshop, I have given myself much needed quiet time each day to rework past poems and begin new ones. And in addition to receiving valuable critiques and comments on my writing along with valuable insight, inspiration, and a fresh approach to writing, I left the class with the gift of new friendships.

For today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review, I’m sharing a book of acrostic poetry. Acrostic poems are created when a word or phrase is written vertically down the page. interesting facts and clues about the subject comprise each line of the poem.

Title – African Acrostics: A word in Edgeways

Written by – Avis Harley

Photographs by – Deborah Noyes

Published by – Candlewick Press – 2009

Topics – children’s poetry, safari, African animals

Opening – The book opens with a poem that defines the acrostic poem. 

ACROSTIC (uh-KROS-tik)

Welcome, all poets — both new

Or well versed. Non-rhymers or

Rhymers! Come,

Drive in headfirst!

 

Inviting all writers —

Now you’re just the right age.

 

Explore the acrostic that rides

Down the page.

Get a word you

Enjoy and would like to define.

Write it down vertically

And fill in each line.

Your name is a very good way to begin.

Surprise yourself. Find that poem within! 

If you read down the spine the poem (including the title), you’ll find four words that appear in the book’s title. 

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Inside every acrostic is a secret message, often lurking in the first letter of each line (read top to bottom). But look out! These acrostics not only follow their subjects to Africa, but they also take the form to a whole new level. Here you’ll find the elusive double acrostic (in which the first and last letters of each line spell a message), the cross acrostic (in which the message is read diagonally), and the multiple acrostics (see it to believe it) — not to mention lions, zebras, crocodiles, hippos, leopards, and elephants. Oh, my! Illustrated with gorgeous full-color photographs, this collection is sure to send poetry buffs and animal lovers on an armchair safari they’ll never forget.
Back matter includes information about acrostics, nature notes, and a photographer’s note.

Why do I like this book? While at the Highlights Poetry Workshop, one of the writers specialized in acrostic poetry. I played with writing this form back in high school, but I never wrote in this style since. Then, while I was browsing the poetry shelves at my library yesterday, I pulled this book off the shelf and learned that other forms of acrostic poetry exist beyond the most common form (the subject reading down the left side of the poem). I discovered double acrostics in which a word is formed down both the left and right side as well as the cross acrostic in which the word appears diagonally. So much creativity in one magical book! Plus AMAZING photographs of the animals of Africa.

Just for fun – Try writing your own acrostic poem. You can start by writing your name down the left side of the page, a word that defines your personality, a favorite season and what it means to you, the name of your favorite animal or pet, a place you love to visit, or your favorite go-to snack. Then, brainstorm words or phrases that come to mind about your topic and fit them into this marvelous form of poetry. Remember, poems don’t need to rhyme.

Here are two of my acrostic poems with the title’s first letter being part of the word.

PERHAPS A POEM ABOUT POEMS (unrhyming)

Only the sweetest words

Express the

Magic I feel in my

Soul

 

LESLIE

Envies the birds with their wings spread in flight,

Soaring as high as a sky-sweeping kite.

Lifting from branches.

Imagining chances.

Every day.

I hope you’ll take a moment in your day to write an acrostic poem. And if you feel brave enough, please share it in the comments.

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!

My Struggle Plus a Perfect Picture Book Friday Review.

I needed to step away from my blog for a while because being a full-time mom became more important. I’ve always been able to juggle my day between being a wife, a mom, and a writer. But after my daughter’s required eye exam to enter 6th grade, life took a turn.

I first noticed something had changed when I asked her to fetch my blue notebook, and she said the only one she could find was purple. Slowly, all colors appeared different to her. Then, she said things that were once red looked gray.

The eye doctor discovered she has an extremely rare case of macular degeneration for which there is no cure.

My father-in-law, a retired doctor, was a great help. In a matter of a few hours, he found a specialist at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital. But when I called to make an appointment, the secretary told me the soonest appointment she had was in four months. I cried. She asked me to hold for a moment, and when she came back on the line she said she could fit my daughter in at the end of the week.

The specialist found that the layer of cones which allows us to see color is disrupted in both of my daughter’s eyes directly behind each retina. Then, she said what I didn’t want to hear. “I’m puzzled.” She wouldn’t say what she thought it pointed to, only that we need to come back for more tests. While I’m holding my breath, experiencing a nervous heart, and fighting back tears, I’ve taken matters into my own hands. The hours each day I devote to my writing have turned into research hours to help my daughter.

When I came across book after book and website after website all pointing to the same list of foods that speed and foods that slow Macular Degeneration, I made changes.

Our kitchen went through an upheaval as I moved systematically from refrigerator to freezer to cabinet, filling garbage bag after garbage bag with all the “bad” foods. Then, I went shopping for the “healing” foods. With a will to save her sight, my daughter helps me experiment with recipes. And despite how some meals have turned out, she has been encouraging, tolerant, and helpful as we push on. As restrictive as this diet is, I’ve joined her because everything is easier when you have someone to lean on and share the journey with.

My picture book review for Perfect Picture Book Friday will be shorter than usual but seems appropriate because of what my family is going through.

Title – A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Written by – Philip C. Stead

Illustrated by – Erin E. Stead

Published by – A Neal Porter Book by Roaring Brook Press – 2010

Topics – Friendship, support, and caring.

Opening –  Amos McGee was an early riser. Every morning when the alarm clock clanged, he swung his legs out of bed and swapped his pajamas for a fresh-pressed uniform.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE.  Friends come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. In Amos McGee’s case, all sorts of species, too! Every day he spends a little bit of time with each of his friends at the zoo, running races with the tortoise, keeping the shy penguin company, and even reading bedtime stories to the owl. But when Amos is too sick to make it to the zoo, his animal friends decide it’s time they returned the favor.