Monday, October 8, 2018

Happy Native American Day

In honor of Native American Day in South Dakota today, I offer these tidbits. The sculpture above stands over the Missouri River at Chamberlain. The sculpture is aptly called "Dignity." The back shows off her beautiful star quilt. At night it is lit and can be seen from the highway bridge across the river below.

To understand more, view this 2.5 minute video of  the sculpture's celebration: 

To hear more from the sculptor and see Dignity from other angles at different times of day, see this 2 minute video. 

And because I can't NOT talk about books, here are a couple of links to books for young people by and about Indigenous peoples: #IndigenousReads by Indigenous Writers and the American Indian Youth Literature Award. 

For an adult poetry read, please see this excerpt from "Whereas" by  Layli Long Soldier, an Oglala Lakota.

For interviews, oral history, and storytelling see the Wolakota Project.

Try learning a little Lakota by watching this Berenstain Bears Halloween clip!

In Lakota, there is no exact word for "goodbye." So I will leave you with Taƞyáƞ máni yo/ye! (Walk well.) Hear it and other farewell variations here

Monday, September 24, 2018

Celebrate the Seasons: Poetree

It's officially fall! We celebrate the changing seasons in many ways, and welcome fall with apple and pumpkin everything. We don our sweaters and sweatshirts and cheer our favorite football teams. We rustle through the fallen leaves and behold the beauty of the changing colors.

In Poetree, Caroline Pignat celebrates each season with sets of acrostic poems. From each vertical word come poetic words and phrases to describe it. For example:
Each spread is beautifully illustrated by Francois Thisdale. Don't you love the cover image where the tree trunk has a fountain pen nib as its root?

This book is a beautiful creative way to  help kids--and people of all ages--see the best in each season and try their own hand at acrostic poetry. Give it a try yourself! Leave an acrostic in the comments. Here's mine:

Frost is coming
Apples are ripe
Leaves change color
Let’s delight!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Back to School: Have a GREAT MORNING!

School starts this week here, and as a former teacher, I wish all students, teachers, staff, and administrators a GREAT MORNING! Fortunately, poetry queens Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong devised a way to make great mornings happen. Their latest anthology from Pomelo Books is aimed at elementary principals and teachers, but I think these poems are good for older students, too. The idea is that the school staff who do morning announcements include a poem from this book every day. What a great way to start the day!

The book is chock-full of short, school-related poems by some of the best children's poets today--Jane Yolen, Jack Prelutsky, Margarita Engle, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Eric Ode, Kenn Nesbitt, and many more, including Janet Wong herself, and me!

In addition to the poems, Sylvia and Janet have included information on how and why to use poetry, tips for using the book, and a whole section on teaching activities, using poetry at home, and other resources. It's so helpful for teachers and administrators who may not be comfortable or familiar with poetry. The book is designed to help help them dive right in!

My poem, "How to Make a Friend," is reprinted from The Poetry Anthology for Celebrations by Pomelo Books.

How about starting every day with a poem, whether you are in school or not?

Sunday, July 22, 2018

It's Time for Fun in the Sun for Everyone!

I hope you've had time for fun in the sun this summer! And surely you have wondered how fairies enjoy this season. In How Do Fairies Have Fun in the Sun?,  Liza Gardner Walsh and Hazel Mitchell give you the answers to the title's question.

Walsh's rhyming text offers possibilities aplenty, and it turns out that fairies have fun in the sun in much the same way as humans. Mitchell's magical, detailed illustrations bring the text to life.

I won my copy from Hazel Mitchell in an online contest. (Thanks, Hazel!) The package itself was "sqee"-worthy-- 
Yes, I now have a Hazel Mitchell original on bubble mailer! 

Hazel very kindly autographed the book to my granddaughters, ages 5 and 2, and I was delighted to read it with them. They had made a fairy garden but most of it got washed away in a heavy rain. Had any fairies lived in the garden? I asked. The five-year-old thought. "Maybe the tooth fairy." Walsh includes tips for making a fairy garden on the book's last page. So what did the girls think? Walsh's lilting rhymes suggested lots of fun, and as I read we talked about what they thought fairies would do and whether the girls would do that activity, too. When I turned the page to the fairies' pool scene, the five-year-old gasped and said, "Wow!" A great endorsement. You can see part of that scene in the "Look Inside" feature here.

Walsh & Mitchell have spent time at fairy festivals this summer. Take a look here and host your own! 

Still want more? I wrote about Walsh, Mitchell, and spring fairies here.  

One thing is certain, summer is made for fun in the sun, whether you are a human or a fairy. How are you have fun in the sun?

Monday, July 9, 2018

What if Bugs Went to School? Crawly School for Bugs Review

Happy summer! School is out for most kids and teachers in the U.S., but young insects have a  lot to learn. Take a look at David L. Harrison's Crawly School for Bugs: Poems to Drive You Buggy to see what school might be like for ticks, termites, mosquitoes, and other insects. Imaginative, informative, and laugh-out-loud funny, the poems might make you think twice before grabbing the can of Raid.

Julie Bayless enhances the humor with her illustrations, characterizing scenes and caricaturizing the bugs. My favorite is the spread that accompanies "What's Left of Termite Class," which shows termites in classroom mayhem. (Use the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon to see it and other illustrations.)

Harrison's well-crafted poems have perfect rhythm and rhyme to make for fun reading out loud, with worthy punchlines at the end to amp up the humor. One of my favorites is "Stink Bug Class."

"Smell that smell?"
complained a kid.
At first we didn't,
then we did!"

I don't want to give away the rest, but this poem strikes me as one that kids will relate to.

I love the summer sun and fun, but when bugs start swarming? Not so much. This book helps me look at bugs in a whole new way!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Meditation on Mothers: Happy National Poetry Month!

My poet friend, Nancy Keck, is always inspired by her home in Northern Minnesota. In this dreamlike work, she ponders the eternal cycle of life and encourages us to remember our mothers and other women we have loved.


I walked into a forest and looked over the sea
     the Goddess came to me in memories of my mother, Jane
     my grandmother, Margaret, my friend, Martina
all gone from me now, but their love still very much with me.
I asked the Goddess to heal my broken heart
to somehow smooth together the fractures of loss, of hopes mislaid, of dreams forgotten.
I gave to the Goddess a lilac, one stem of purple flowers,
     the scent of spring , the image of my spirit
     of my love for this earth, for this life
     its beauty in brief and eternal time.

The Goddess gave me the hope of my dreams, the continuation of our family’s lineage
     through my cherished daughter, Suzanne,
     a tiny, perfect baby.
I kissed the baby’s fingers and held it tightly, yet gently
     realization of Suzanne’s longing to become a mother
     incarnation of my hope to become a grandmother
     connection with my mother and grandmothers
     link back through the women of our family
          to the ancient rocks of England, to ancient Celtic spirits
          to ancient voices singing through the waves of Lake Superior
          through the branches of pines in the Northern forest
          to the Northern Lights that danced all over the sky following my mother’s death.

I sit beside Lake Superior
watching the waves wash into the shore, then back out again.
One day those waves will carry my ashes, my spirit,
to join those of the women who have gone on before me
to become one with the Divine.

     ~Nancy Ronstrom Keck
     (c) April 26, 2009

How do you remember and honor the women who have gone on before you?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Peachy Poetry: Happy National Poetry Month!

(all photos by Jane Heitman Healy (c) 2011)

If you follow this blog in late summer, you know I love peaches from Western Colorado. So when teacher-poet Janet Clare Fagal submitted these poems, my mouth watered! Enjoy the poem, leave a comment for Janet, and enjoy a fresh peach when you get a chance.                  

                                  After Spring Comes Summer: A Trio of Peachy Poems

                                                           The Peach

                                                           Rub, squeeze, chomp, sip
                                                           sweet fleshy globe.
                                                           Golden-pink like sunset.
                                                           Slips down your throat
                                                           cool as night.
                                                           Feels like summer.

                                                               Orchard Treasure

                                                               Silky summer
                                                               poised in the farmstand
                                                               Piled high, plump,

                                                                  Peach Cobbler

                                                                  Swirled like pearls,
                                                                  soft and plump,
                                                                  round like globes,
                                                                  gone in gulps.