Thursday, April 30, 2009

Poetry Friday: Letter Poems

How about writing a poem in the form of a letter? It could be a love letter, a letter of complaint, a thank you letter. Here is an “angry” letter poem that I wrote from Mama Bear to Goldilocks for a collection of fairy tale poems.

Dear Goldilocks,

You little brat. You little scamp!

You sneaked into our summer camp

And ate my little baby’s bowl

Of porridge, broke his chair, then stole

Upstairs and napped on Baby’s bed.

You ripped the new embroidered spread

His Grammy gave him yesterday.

This time you may have slipped away.

But if you ever come back here,

I’ll grab you, Goldie, by the ear—

And cut off all you curly hair!

You are not welcome!!!!!


Ma Bear

Here’s another rhyming letter poem that I wrote and posted previously at Wild Rose Reader:

Dear Lion,
I’m tired of doing the hunting, the preying
While your only job is to watch the cubs playing.
I’m tired of stalking the zebras and gnus
While you lie around on the grassland and snooze.
I’m tired of running, and pouncing, and killing.
I want a career that is much more fulfilling.
I’m tired, so tired. I’m spent to the core.
While I’m hard at work, you just eat, sleep, and snore.
I fetch all the food. You grow stronger…I thinner.
For the next seven days you can catch your own dinner!
I’m going away for a well-needed rest.
I’ll be seeing you soon.
All my love,

Recommended Poetry Books with Letter Poems
Written & Illustrated by Takayo Noda
Dial/Penguin Putnam
In DEAR WORLD, Takayo Noda writes poems that focus mostly on the natural world. She writes her letter poems to apples, the dawn, the sun, snow, trees, the stars—to a turtle, a bird, and fish. Her watercolor and collage illustrations are colorful and visually stunning. They absolutely add another dimension to her text.
Here are excerpts from three of the letter poems in Dear World:

dear bird

I see you
sleeping alone
on the rooftop

your beak is red
feathers are blue
they are shining and
reflecting in the moonlight

dear snow
I see you
spinning and dancing
just like angels in white…
dear sun
I know
when you are happy
because you shine
and bounce
on everything
I know
when you are sad
because you become
hazy and fuzzy
as if you had
tears in your eyes


Written by Arnold AdoffI

llustrated by Lisa Desimini

The Blue Sky Press/Scholastic1997

Unfortunately, Love Letters is now out of print—but you may be able to purchase a used copy. The book includes love letter poems written to a dog, a cat, to a little sister from a big brother, to a snoring dad from his son, to a teacher from a secret admirer, and to a “prince” from his “potential princess”--and many others

Here is the last poem from Adoff’s book:

Dear Once Upon A Time:

we can
to ear.

Your Happy Ending.

CLASSROOM CONNECTION: Writing Letter Poems with Children
  • First, share and discuss some letter poems with your students in class.
  • Second, talk about reasons why people write letters to each other.
  • Third, ask students to think about and suggest the people, animals, elements of nature, or inanimate objects to whom they might consider writing letter poems.
  • Fourth, write their responses on chart paper.
  • Next, with the help of your students, choose a letter recipient from the list you made and write a collaborative class letter poem on chart paper to that recipient.
  • Elicit from your students “things they would like to tell the recipient” in the collaborative letter poem. Copy down students’ responses on the chart paper.
  • When you and your students are finished with the rough draft of the poem, read it aloud as a group.
  • Leave the poem out for a few days for students to reread. Ask them to think about ways they could improve the poem—by adding lines, eliminating lines, including figurative language, substituting stronger verbs/more expressive words in place of others, etc.
  • Discuss suggested changes with students and write a second draft of the collaborative poem on another piece of chart paper.
  • Finally, after reading the second draft of the collaborative poem aloud with the class, ask students to write their own letter poems to a person, animal, element of nature, or object of their choice.

One More Thing
Letter Poems Deliver: Experimenting with Line Breaks in Poetry Writing (Read. Write. Think)


At Blue Rose Girls, I have a video of Naomi Shihab Nye reciting a “found” poem she wrote using things that her young son had said. The poem is called One Boy Told Me.

This week at Political Verses, I have to new poetry posts:
Bye-bye, Bybee and Extended Engagement: A Poem by J. Patrick Lewis

Maya has the Maya has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Allegro. at Allegro.

DRAGON: An Original Acrostic

Well…I couldn’t let the last day of National Poetry Month pass without posting an original poem. Here’s an acrostic I wrote y-e-a-r-s ago.

Dagger-toothed demon

Roars its fiery breath, sets

Aflame a village,

Grips everyone in its claws

Of terror.

Now where is the knight in shining armor?

NOTE: I’ve changed the date of the last drawing for National Poetry Month. I’ve decided to hold the drawing on May 3rd instead of May 1st. Another change: Anyone who leaves a comment at any of my poetry posts dated April 29th-May 2nd will be eligible to win a copy of Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku, which was written by Paul B. Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Tricia Tusa.

ANOTHER NOTE: I’ll be mailing out the winning books next week. If you’ve been named a winner in any of the drawings and haven’t emailed me your address yet, please do so by next Monday. Thanks!

NEWS: Google Faces Antitrust Investigation for Agreement to Digitize Millions of Books Online

From Democracy Now!: Google Faces Antitrust Investigation for Agreement to Digitize Millions of Books Online

Click the link above to view Amy Goodman’s video interview with Brewster Kahle, Founder of the non-profit online library, the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive hosts an online text archive of over one million written works.

From the Democracy Now website: The Justice Department has launched an investigation into whether Google is violating antitrust laws by reaching an agreement with authors and publishers to digitizing millions of printed books and posting the contents online. We speak to Brewster Kahle, founder of the non-profit internet library He’s among critics warning Google could end up with a monopoly of access to information and exclusive license to profit from millions of books.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

MOON: An Original Acrostic

From Jonathan Turley’s Blog (April 23, 2009): Report: Bill Nye “The Science Guy” Exposed as Godless, Soulless Blasphemer in Texas

There is an interesting account out of Waco, Texas where Bill Nye “The Science Guy” was booed for saying that the Moon does not generate it own light — in contradiction to the Bible. This will likely end any designs of Nye to open a new Bill Nye “The Religion Guy” line of products. The speech reportedly occurred in 2006 but the controversy was rekindled after critics cried foul at the removal of the story from the local newspaper’s online archive.

Nye ran afoul of the faithful by remarking that it is not true that the moon generates its own light as opposed to reflecting light. This contradicted Genesis 1:16, which says quite clearly (if only Nye bothered to read it) that “God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.”

You can read the rest here.

I hope I don’t run afoul of this particular group of the faithful with the following acrostic poem!


Of the sun, bright

Orb in the evening sky, Earth’s


Wait and See...

That's the approach I'm going to take regarding The Friends' Zone in light of the emergence of the identity of our Round 2 opponent.

While NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was fulfilling the terms of his deal with Mephistopheles or whatever other unworldly demons with whom he undoubtedly made prior arrangements to secure this inevitable media juggernaut of a series, my thoughts immediately went straight to the issue of how I will regulate The Friends' Zone. Caps fans, after all, have been a PITA around here since before I even came on board. It hasn't just been the Caps' fans, either. (If you're not a longtime reader, click here to find out the real reason why I hate anything related to the hockey team based in our nation's capital.)

History is usually a good indication of what's to come, so there's a good chance it could get pretty ugly in The Friends' Zone.

"Bring it, Ovechkin."

But after being convinced by Friends of The Show Carlie and Jaime, I have decided to keep things completely open as they currently are. At the same time, I don't want to spend an entire playoff round worrying about anyone getting offended, so consider this fair warning: I will do my best to keep up with deleting the comments that violate TSCS policies, and in the meantime, I ask you to completely ignore any that you see. Just continue with your regular conversations, and I'll eventually delete ALL of the offensive stuff.

Now all that is out of the way, we can look forward to the start of this series on Saturday at 1:00pm. The Round 2 pep rally will be up before then.


GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

National Poetry Month--Fourth Week Roundup

The Miss Rumphius Effect Presents Interviews with Children’s Poets
Poetry Makers - Betsy Franco
Poetry Makers - Carole Boston Weatherford
Poetry Makers - Lisa Westberg Peters
Poetry Makers - Laura Purdie Salas
Poetry Makers - Calef Brown
Poetry Makers - Marilyn Nelson
Poetry Makers - Helen Frost
Poetry Makers - Douglas Florian

GottaBook Presents Previously Unpublished Poems by Children’s Poets
Janet Wong - My Green Grandfather
Nikki Giovanni - My Sister and Me
J. Patrick Lewis - The Poet of the World
Julie Larios - No Strings Attached
Joan Bransfield Graham - I am the Poem
Kenn Nesbitt - My Chicken's On The Internet
April Halprin Wayland - How to Read a Poem Aloud

Poetry for Children Presents Children’s Poetry Book Reviews
Earth Day poetry
Poem definitions
Looks like Loose Leashes
Color poetry from Mexico/South Africa
Stampede to School Poetry
Amiri & Odette in Love
Wild Animals from Britain

Liz in Ink Presents A Haiku-a-Day
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 22
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 23
Poetry Friday -- Haiku
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 24
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 25
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 26
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 27

A Wrung Sponge Presents Poetry and Photographs
Poem for Earth Day (A Triolet)
New leaves; spring haiku
afternoon soccer
when it feels like summer
playground duty

Susan Taylor Brown Presents National Poetry Month Haiku
National Poetry Month Haiku #22 Western Redbud
National Poetry Month Haiku #23 Coyote Mint
National Poetry Month Haiku #24 Milkweed
National Poetry Month Haiku #25 Flannel Bush
National Poetry Month Haiku #26 Yarrow
National Poetry Month Haiku #27 Island Snapdragon
National Poetry Month Haiku #28 Dogwood

Pencil Talk Presents Poems by Children & One by Anastasia Suen
All Those Toys
The Chick That Was Afraid
The Tree
The Baby Ladybug
The Storm

A National Poetry Month Post from 7-Imp
More Poetry for April: From Frothy to Freaky

From Jone at Check It Out
Poetry Friday: The Poetry of Miss Huddle’s Room

Wild Rose Reader Presents a Potpourri of Poetry Posts
Silkworm Cocoon & Pupa Poems: Variatons on a Theme
Dirty Dog!: A Triolet
Poetry Friday: Animal Haiku
Color Poems
Two Original "In-Progress" Acrostic Poems
The Winners This Week Are...
National Poetry Month--Third Week Roundup

My Poems & Other Posts at Political Verses
The Cows Caused It: A Poem about Global Warming (According to some congressmen—it may be that the flatulence of dinosaurs and cows have caused climatic changes on our planet.)
This Be the Verse: It Doesn't Matter What You Do (Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Philip Larkin)
Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door: John Yoo at the Pearly Gates
The Winner This Week is...

Interim Head Coach Dan Bylsma

Somebody got a promotion!!!

Congratulations, Coach!! You've MORE than earned it. :)

Two Original "In-Progress" Acrostic Poems

Well, April is drawing to a close. Unfortunately, I haven’t followed through with many of the things I had planned for National Poetry Month this year at Wild Rose Reader. There have been a few things in my personal life that have focuesd my attention elsewhere. Fortunately, the four very talented poets that I had hoped to interview for my blog this month have been understanding and sympathetic. I will be interviewing these fine ladies in the coming weeks. I also had lots of ideas for poetry posts that I never got around to writing up. In time, I’ll get around to those, too.

For many years, I was not a fan of acrostic poems—finding most of the ones that I had read as too prosaic for my taste. Then, over a decade ago, I began attempting to write acrostics—and got hooked. I’ve written about three dozen acrostics—some of which rhyme. In addition, I have also have a number of acrostics that are still “in progress.” I’m not sure these poems will ever make it to the final draft stage.

Here are two of the “in-progress” acrostics from my unpublished collection that I thought I’d post today.

Cans of people,


Roaring down roads on

Silver-capped wheels

Outpost in a barren land,

A haven for weary travelers

Surrounded by stretches of desert,

Island of green washed by a

Sea of sand


Joyce Sidman and I invited you to write and share a color poem. Check out the following Wild Rose Reader posts for further information and writing suggestions.

Red Sings from Treetops: A Book Review & An Invitation

Color Poems

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Winners This Week Are...

Rebecca is the winner yesterday’s drawing at Wild Rose Reader. She will receive a copy of Birds on a Wire: A Renga ‘Round Town, which was written by J. Patrick Lewis and Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Gary Lippincott.

The winners of Anna Alter's What Can You Do with an old Red Shoe? are MotherReader, MJ, and john & amp; catherine.

Note to all of this week’s winners: Congratulations! Please email me your addresses.

Here is the schedule for the upcoming drawings at Wild Rose Reader and Political Verses.

May 1st—for comments left on posts dated April 26-30

The winner of the drawing that takes place on May 1st will receive a copy of Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku. The book was written by Paul B. Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Tricia Tusa.

Find out who won a copy of Once Upon a Tomb: Gravely Humorous Verses over at Political Verses.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Color Poems

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
Written by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Houghton Mifflin, 2009

On April 17th, I posted a review of Joyce Sidman’s wonderful new collection of poems entitled Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors. Joyce and I invited my blog readers to write color poems and submit them to Wild Rose Reader for posting at a later date. Unfortunately, no one has submitted a poem yet—so I thought I’d send out a second invitation…along with four color poems that I wrote today. I kept to the seasonal theme just as Joyce did with the poems in her collection. That is not a requirement for your color poems.

NOTE: Joyce developed a Reader’s Guide for her book Red Sings from Treetops. The guide includes ideas and suggestions for writing three different types of color poems: a list poem, a color person poem, and a synesthesia poem. Why not check out her suggestions? You may be inspired to write your own color poem.

Here’s a link to Joyce’s teacher's guide page for Red Sings from Treetops.

My Color Poems

Spring Green
pokes out from the earth
before the last snows melt,
announces the arrival
of impatient crocuses.
It perches on tree branches
like little bitty birds,
spreads itself over the ground
in grassy velvet shawls.
Spring Green sprouts everywhere
in a dazzle of different shades
covering over the drab brown
of winter.

Summer Yellow,
is brazen and bold,
puffs out its chest in July
and shouts from its perch high in the sky:
Hot Hot Hot!
Summer Yellow
sizzles on the sidewalk,
scorches the sandy beach,
sears our skin with its molten hands.
It grows wild in dandelions
before they wither to white.
It powders the faces of daisies
with gold dust.
Summer Yellow

is tart and tangy,
tingles on the tongue...
likes to cool itself in an icy pitcher
of lemonade.

The Orange of October
shines in the face
of a harvest moon,
grows plump and round in pumpkin patches,
flickers in the angled eyes of jack o’ lanterns…
and their crooked copper grins.
The Orange of October
flames in oak leaves and asters,
smells like cinnamon and nutmeg,
tastes like sweet potato pie.

Winter White
whirls in the wind,
waltzes down from clouds,
alights with feathered feet.
It pillows the ground,
muffling the sound of footsteps
on the walk.
Winter White
wraps the rhododendron
in a fluffy shawl,
lays a feathered quilt
over the frozen pond.
Winter White
etches windowpanes
with frosty fingertips.
It whispers through icy lips,
sounds like a ghost
shivering in cold blue shadows.

If you write a color poem, you can leave it in the comments or email it to me.

Photo Of The Day

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 25: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins leaves the ice after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Wachovia Center on April 25, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Penguins defeated the Flyers 5-3 and won the series 4 games to 2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Round 1 Game 6: Pens v Flyers (W 5-3)



ORANGE = CRUSHED and we're off to Round 2!!!!!!!!!!

First Period
In all honesty, at first, each team was pretty evenly matched where the other's weakness was. It seemed like the Pens had more offensive ice time, but the Flyers did their job keeping our Boys off the board. Until the last 2½ minutes of the period...

We were told two not-so-surprising facts: First, that our wicked 3rd line has had as many scoring chances as our stellar 1st line; second, that super d-bag Carcillo (yeah, he's the one that got suspended for the headshot on Mad Max on the faceoff in Game 1) is a "fan favorite here in Philadelphia." That certainly says something, no? As expected, the crowd had been chanting "CROSBY SUCKS!!" every 3 minutes on cue. Also of note - when Super Duper was hit in the throat by Coburn, which caused him (duh) to fall to the ice, the fans actually booed Dupuis.

The stalemate ended with a major mistake on Mad Max's part. Geno had just gloved down a puck at the Pens' blue line. Talbot took the puck and headed towards Flower. Superstar must not have realized that Richards was right on him from behind, and so he had the puck stolen with no D man between Richards and Flower. Our goalie actually made the initial save with a big fish flop. But, like I said, there were no D men in sight, so Knuble skated in and capitalized on the rebound, sending it into the wide open net. [Pens 0, Flyers 1]

I'm guessing that goal must have messed with Flower's head because just 51 seconds later, while the Pens were in the midst of a change, Lupul was able to find the puck-sized space between Flower, the post, and his glove to double the Flyers' lead. [Pens 0, Flyers 2]

Amazingly enough, there were no penalties until 37.7 seconds until the end of the period. Geno was tripped up at the Flyers' blue line by Carter. The Pens didn't score on their abbreviated power play, and as the period ended, things were tense but no fights broke out.

Second Period
The Pens didn't score on the remainder of their power play. Things went from bad to worse when Siddo was called for slashing and 40 seconds later, Briere scored. [Pens 0, Flyers 3] For Pens fans, it felt as though all the happiness had gone from the world. But then our little Superstar scrapper decided to take matters into his own hands.

He and Carcillo had been doing the war of the words thing for a while until it finally culminated with a knock down, drag out fight. Who won? WHO CARES?! Because immediately following their fisticuffs, Geno went hard to the net and fired a shot that Tank was able to send to the back of the net through Biron's pads. [Pens 1, Flyers 3]

Tank didn't get to celebrate his goal before Coburn took him down from behind. The result was an all out melee. Sticks and gloves were everywhere. When the ice was cleared up, we were left with a 4-on-4. An errant pass from one Flyer to another in the Pens' zone was scooped up by TK, who went 3-on-1 with Tank and Eaton. Kennedy fired the initial shot that gave the rebound for Eaton to send over the goal line. [Pens 2, Flyers 3]

The Pens got two golden opportunities when Carle and Alberts took back to back penalties for tripping, but they were unable to seal the deal. Tank was penalized for cross-checking, but the Flyers didn't add to their lead. Our top line went to work. Guerin fired a shot that popped up in front of Biron. Siddo was right there to bang one home to tie the game. [Pens 3, Flyers 3]

What's that, crowd? "CROSBY SUCKS!!"? Haha, I think you mean, "CROSBY SCORES!!"

Despite good chances from Geno and Kuni, the period ended with both teams at 3.

Third Period
Early on, Gonch displayed an incredible sense of good timing when he scored his first goal of the playoffs. [Pens 4, Flyers 3] That goal would become the game winner. :)

Geno took a penalty for crosschecking Powe (only after Powe crosschecked him first without getting called for it). On the ensuing penalty kill, Scudsi was an absolute warrior, and Flower goofed but Eaton was there to cover for him and help keep the Flyers from scoring. A giveaway from Gill lead to chaos in front of Flower, yet the Flyers didn't score because of some glorious stick work by Scuds. Later, Giroux nearly changed the world, but lucky for us he hit the post. Then Flower wanted some of that glory, so he made the save of a lifetime on Lupul.

Geno stole the puck and went 1-on-none, but Biron stoned him. The Pens got a 3-on-1 chance, but Superstar made one too many moves before shooting the puck (BTW, after the spectacular performance he put in, I have MORE than forgiven him for the mistake leading to the Flyers' first goal).

I couldn't breathe for the last seven minutes of the game, let alone take notes. Let's just say the Flyers came dangerously close to tying the game and forcing overtime more times than I'd care to count. With about one minute left in the game, the Flyers pulled their goalie in favor of the extra attacker.

The Flyers called a timeout after the Pens iced the puck, but it didn't help. Carter screwed up a pass and it went to center ice and slowly towards the empty net, when - who was that streaking by everyone? It was OUR CAPTAIN! Propelled by the strength of his tree trunk sized legs, Siddo beat Timonen to the puck and was able to get not one but two chances to put it into the empty net. The second try was the one that assured the end of the Flyers' season. [Pens 5, Flyers 3]


A few seconds later, that was it. PENS WIN AND ADVANCE TO ROUND 2!!!!!!!!!!

Look for a second Pep Rally before the start of Round 2. If anyone has any suggestions for the mp3 download, shoot me an email. :)

GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fear not

Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by, and all your prayers and encouragements. Thank God for His goodness and mercies in seeing us through another week.

It has been a very busy and tiring week for me, in much joyful service for our Lord. Thank God for grace and strength daily. I am looking forward to a time of rest and worship this weekend and Lord's day :)

Recently, I read this very comforting portion from CH Spurgeon's Morning and Evening, and reminded afresh that we have a God Who loves us dearly and is in control of all things in our life. So we need not be afraid no matter what befalls us or what we have to go through in this temporal life.

God is continuing to work all things for His glory and our good. He sanctifies us through ever trials and afflictions He allows us to go through. He draws us closer to Himself and enable us to know more and more of His love and sufficiency.

Are you going through a difficult time or fearful time? Fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows. God will take care of you as you cast all your anxieties upon our Lord Jesus Christ. His grace is sufficient for you. He will most assuredly deliver you or continue to support you under the trial so that you may know more and more of His sufficiency and presence with you.

“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night.”
Psalm 91:5

WHAT is this terror? It may be the cry of fire, or the noise of thieves, or fancied appearances, or the shriek of sudden sickness or death. We live in the world of death and sorrow, we may therefore look for ills as well in the night-watches as beneath the glare of the broiling sun.

Nor should this alarm us, for be the terror what it may, the promise is that the believer shall not be afraid.

Why should he? Let us put it more closely, why should we?

God our Father is here, and will be here all through the lonely hours; He is an almighty Watcher, a sleepless Guardian, a faithful Friend.

Nothing can happen without His direction, for even hell itself is under His control. Darkness is not dark to Him. He has promised to be a wall of fire around His people—and who can break through such a barrier?

Worldlings may well be afraid, for they have an angry God above them, a guilty conscience within them, and a yawning hell beneath them; but we who rest in Jesus are saved from all these through rich mercy.

If we give way to foolish fear, we shall dishonor our profession, and lead others to doubt the reality of godliness.

We ought to be afraid of being afraid, lest we should vex the Holy Spirit by foolish distrust.

Down, then, ye dismal forebodings and groundless apprehensions, God has not forgotten to be gracious, nor shut up His tender mercies; it may be night in the soul, but there need be no terror, for the God of love changes not.

Children of light may walk in darkness, but they are not therefore cast away, nay, they are now enabled to prove their adoption by trusting in their heavenly Father as hypocrites cannot do.

“Though the night be dark and dreary,
Darkness cannot hide from Thee;
Thou art He, who, never weary,
Watchest where Thy people be.”

Taken from CH Spurgeon's Morning & Evening, 22 April, Evening

Thanks again for stopping by. Hope you have a very restful and blessed weekend. Take care.

Warm regards,

My friend, CW, took this lovely picture

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Poetry Friday: Animal Haiku

The Cuckoo’s Haiku and Other Birding Poems
Written by Michael J. Rosen
Illustrated by Stan Fellows
Candlewick, 2009

The Cuckoo’s Haiku is truly one of the finest books of haiku for children that I have ever read. It’s a wonderful amalgam of lovely haiku about birds, exquisite realistic watercolor paintings showing the different birds in their natural settings, and factual information about the avian creatures in the back matter of the book.

The book is thoughtfully organized by season. The Spring Section includes haiku about the Eastern Bluebird, Canada Goose, American Goldfinch, Northern cardinal, American Crow, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Mourning dove. The Summer Section includes poems about the Chimney Swift, Belted Kingfisher, Barred Owl, Great Blue Heron, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird, and Common Grackle. The Autumn Section includes poems about the Cedar Waxwing, White-breasted Nuthatch, European Starling, American Robin, and Black-billed Cuckoo. The Winter Section has poems about the Dark-eyed Junco, Wild Turkey, Blue Jay, House Sparrow, and Purple Finch.

Here’s a haiku about the Black-billed Cuckoo from the book:

the cuckoo’s haiku
hidden like the chance of rain
its name, repeating

There’s no point in my writing a more extensive review of this book because Jules of 7-Imp has already written the definitive post about it. Her review includes lots of background information from the author—as well as some of the book’s beautiful illustrations. Here’s the link: Poetry Friday and Michael J. Rosen: Haiku is for the Birds.

If Not for the Cat
Written by Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Ted Rand
Greenwillow, 2004

If Not for the Cat is definitely a great departure from the books of rhythmic, rhyming, humorous poems for which Jack Prelutsky has become so famous. Prelutsky proves himself adept at penning this traditional form of Japanese poetry. He writes his haiku about a variety of animals—including jellyfish, a sea otter, a rattlesnake, ants, and a kangaroo. I should note that these seventeen poems do not adhere to all of the essential elements one would expect to find in the classical form of haiku. There are no “season” words. Another thing: Prelutsky’s haiku could also be considered “mask” poems because the animals speak out to us from the pages of this beautifully illustrated picture book in their own voices.

Here is a haiku told in the voice of a hummingbird:

I, the hoverer,
Sip the nasturtium’s nectar
And sing with my wings.

Here’s a link to another poem from the book.

Ted Rand’s spare, elegant illustrations are the perfect complement for the haiku poems in this book. This is a truly lovely collection of pictures and poetry!

You can read a brief description of If Not for the Cat at this link: Horn Book Fanfare—Best Books of 2004.

Least Things: Poems About Small Natures
Written by Jane Yolen
Photographs by Jason Stemple
Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, 2003

Least Things is a book of fourteen haiku about smaller creatures with whom most of us are familiar—snail, crab, caterpillar, butterfly, chipmunk, grasshopper, squirrel, dragonfly, spider, lizard, hummingbird, turtle, tree frog—and a human baby. Yolen writes her poems using the traditional 5/7/5 syllabic format. Close-up photographs of the “least things” showing them in their natural habitats serve as the backdrops for the poems, which--like the haiku in If Not for the Cat—are written in the voices of the different creatures.


A quick sideways glance,
A brief soft-shoe over sand.
I scuttle away.

Each two-page spread in the book includes a haiku and a small bit of factual information about the animal written about in the poem. Yolen wrote the poems for her son Jason’s photographs. There is, therefore, a true marriage of text and illustration. This is a good book to include in a classroom library collection.

Classroom Connection
An elementary teacher could use Least Things as a springboard for a creative writing/cross curricular activity in the classroom. It might be fun for a teacher to gather some color photographs of insects and other small animals and have students write haiku about them. Children could also do a little research and write short paragraphs of information about the animals--just as Yolen did in her book. The students could then illustrate their poems. The photographs, drawings, haiku, and informational paragraphs could be mounted on construction paper and posted on a bulletin board. Wouldn't that make for a wonderful display of student writing and artwork?

Written by Andrew Clements
Illustrated by Tim Bowers
Simon & Schuster, 2007

Dogku is certainly not your typical book of haiku for children. Told through a series of seventeen haiku, this is a light-hearted tale of a stray dog that appears at the door of a family with three children one day. The children name the dog Mooch before they head off for school that morning. While the children are away, Mooch has some adventures and gets into some mischief. He goes for a ride in the car with the window open; he rolls around in the trash; he chews on dirty socks he finds in the laundry basket; and he takes a nap outside on the stoop.

Later that day, a decision must be made by the parents. Will they agree to keep the stray as a family pet—or will they take him to the pound? What will happen? Fortunately for Mooch and the three children, the homeless dog finds a home. Young readers are sure to enjoy this doggy tale with a happy ending.

A new doggy bed!
Food, a bowl, a squeaky toy!
Mooch has found his home.

Tim Bowers' illustrations done in oil paint add to the charm and levity of this endearing haiku story.


Dirty Dog!: A Triolet

Don't you just love it when life hands you real situations that serve as inspiration for poetry? My daughter's fiance took their Yellow Lab Jack to a special park today where dogs are allowed to run around unleashed. I doubt Jack will be visiting that park again soon!

My daughter sent me these pictures of Jack after telling me a terribly funny tale about her dog and her fiance.

A Poem for Jerry
Dirty, dirty, dirty dog!
Didn’t heed your master—NO!
Thought you’d run into the bog.
Dirty, dirty, dirty dog!
(I rant in my mad monologue.)
You frolicked where you shouldn’t go.
Dirty, dirty, dirty dog!
Didn’t heed your master—NO!

Here's another post about Jack. It includes several photos of Jack sans the mud: JACK: A Mask Poem

Round 1 Game 5: Pens v Flyers (L 0-3)

LATE EDIT: There will be no recap tonight because I missed a HUGE portion of the game due to FSN's "technical difficulties."


Let's end this thing tonight.






GO PENS!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Silkworm Cocoon & Pupa Poems: Variations on a Theme

When I traveled to the People’s Republic of China with an educational delegation in the autumn of 1994, one of the places we visited was a silk factory. It was fascinating to see the boiled cocoons and the spools of raw silk. I wish I had pictures to post—but all I have are slides of my trip there.

Here are some of my poems about silkworm cocoons and pupae. These poems are variations on a theme. In my elementary classroom, I often shared a variety poems on a particular subject—butterflies, caterpillars, trees, the sun, the moon, winter, spring, etc.—to show my students how different poets might write about them from their perspectives...and in their own unique styles.

The following poems in order are: a mask poem, an acrostic, a cinquain, and a haiku.


This silken nest
Is where I’ll rest
And sleep and change
And rearrange
Myself into another me.

In this small space,
This creamy case,
Six legs I’ll grow,
Four wings—and oh…
Can’t wait to see the ME I’ll be.

Case spun

Of creamy silken threads,

Cozy cottage for

One, changing room

Of a sleeping pupa who will awaken to a

New self.


creamy silken

sack—sleeping bag for one

young dreamer whose wish for wings will

come true

Swaddled in white silk

spinning dreams of a future

that will end too soon


Silkworm Moth (Pictures)

Silkworms Moths

Silk Factory--Suzhou

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

National Poetry Month--Third Week Roundup

The Miss Rumphius Effect Presents Interviews with Children’s Poets
Poetry Makers - Georgia Heard
Poetry Makers - Paul Janeczko
Poetry Makers - Jaime Adoff
Poetry Makers - Arnold Adoff
Poetry Makers - Joan Bransfield Graham
Poetry Makers - Bobbi Katz
Poetry Makers - Kristine O'Connell George
Poetry Makers - Jorge Argueta

GottaBook Presents Previously Unpublished Poems by Children’s Poets
Mary Ann Hoberman - I Dreamt I Saw a Dinosaur
Betsy Franco - Me and Joe Lining Up After Recess
Jon Scieszka - 200 Typing Monkeys Almost Make It
Kristine O'Connell George - Skeleton at Dinner
Arnold Adoff - n o justice n o p e a c e
Jane Yolen - My Teacher
Gregory K. - I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown

Poetry for Children Presents Children’s Poetry Book Reviews
More Fun with Jon Agee
Dinothesaurus by Douglas Florian
A spring manga-ish poetry mash up
Zombies in poetry
Not-poetry by poets

Liz in Ink Presents A Haiku-a-Day
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 15
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 16
Poetry Friday -- Haiku 17
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 18
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 19
National Poetry Month -- Haiku 20

A Wrung Sponge Presents Haiku and Photographs
Being Green
moon watching
Barn Wall
Spice Bush
Wildflower haiku
wisteria buds

Pencil Talk Presents Poems by Children & One by Anastasia Suen
White Flower
The Bird’s Home

Some National Poetry Month Posts from 7-Imp
Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Douglas Florian
7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #110: Featuring Jason Stemple and Jane Yolen
Seven Questions—And a Little Bit of Soup—Over Breakfast with Calef Brown
Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #82 (The Poetry Friday Edition): Laura Purdie Salas

A Post about Emily Dickinson from Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup
friday feast: black cake from the woman in white

From Jone at Check It Out
Fibonacci Friday (Kindergarten students write a different version of the Fib poem created by Gregory Pincus. These poems use words rather than syllables.)

Wild Rose Reader Presents a Potpourri of Poetry Posts
Help Poet Kristine O'Connell George Welcome "Bo" to the White House with Poetry
Red Sings from Treetops: A Book Review & An Invitation
JACK: A Mask Poem
A Few More Poetry Resources
Asteroids: Two Original Poems
Presenting Anna Alter & What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?
National Poetry Month--Second Week Roundup

My Poems & Posts at Political Verses
Teatime for Sean Hannity: A Double Dactyl
Gasbag: A Limbaughrhyme
Bill O. the Bully & Amanda Terkel
This Week's Winner Is...

Round 1 Game 4: Pens v Flyers (W 3-1)

Here's something to get you in the right frame of mind for tonight's matchup. It's a shot of ├╝ber-arse Scott Hartnell tripping our captain. I grabbed the original caption for you, too:

Philadelphia Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell, left, puts his stick in the path of Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, right, in the third period of a first-round NHL hockey playoff game Sunday, April 19, 2009, in Philadelphia. The Flyers won 6-3. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

First Period
According to Steigy, the Flyers were "trying to generate animosity against Sidney Crosby with a piece up on the JumboTron" prior to the start of the game. No word about what that piece contained. One can only imagine...

Siddo and Geno - a duo for whom we will soon be thinking of a new nickname - started (and ended) the period on the ice together. The crowd promptly responded with a chant of "CROSBY SUCKS!!" Carter hit the post behind Flower. Later, Timonen nailed Siddo into the boards. The crowd, of course, LOVED it and chimed in with another "CROSBY SUCKS!!" Tank took a shot that hit the outside of the cage and took a strange bounce. Biron had to double back to cover it. The Flyers nearly got the gift of a lifetime when Flower misplayed the puck and it went out to a Flyer, who (fortunately) wasn't paying attention. If he had been, he would have had a chance on a W-I-D-E open net.

Our 3rd line is unreal. They came out swinging and drew the night's first penalty. Impressively for both sides, it didn't come until nearly 7 minutes into the game! The crowd helped the Flyers start their penalty kill with a "CROSBY SUCKS!!" Eight seconds into it, Carter and Hartnell went for a shorty, but Carter lost his balance and began to fall - coincidentally, Tanger was in the process of giving Carter a shove as he fell, so he was nailed with a crosschecking penalty. Bibs was indignant. "That's not a penalty, folks!!" With 58 seconds left in the 4-on-4, Geno was called for hooking Gagne. Staalsy was a complete BEAST on the penalty kill. I take back any doubts I ever had about his being essential to the core of the team. When he needs to be, he is absolutely clutch. Neither team scored while their players were in the boxes.

After Flower made the save of a lifetime on Giroux, Biron had to make one of his own. Tank fired a shot that bounced up and over Biron and was trickling through the blue paint. Biron flopped back just in the nick of time to prevent the puck from crossing the goal line by mere millimeters. After a little bit of confusion about which player was penalized, Parent took a penalty for holding and taking Geno down. On the ensuing power play, the crowd decided to switch it up and chant, "REF, YOU SUCK!!" Syko threw one right across the goal mouth, but no dice. (He can't buy one right now for some reason!) They didn't score on their advantage. Then the crowd went back to "CROSBY SUCKS!!" Cookie was called for hooking, but the Flyers didn't score on their power play.

Second Period
Carter gave a shot to Cookie, who came back with a response that garnered him an interference penalty. Ordinarily, this would be bad. But not only did the Flyers not score, but when Cookie came out of the box, he set Siddo up for a goal. Sid went hard to net - so hard that he went into it. The goal may not have been pretty, but I thought it was the nicest play of the night to that point. ;) Just as they were getting ready to drop the puck, the Flyers decided they wanted the War Room to get involved. On the overhead replay, it would have been clear to Helen Keller that the puck went in off Sid's elbow or upper body area - not his foot. Therefore, the War Room had no choice but to do the right thing. The call on the ice stood. [Pens 1, Flyers 0]

BTW - I absolutely LOVE it when Siddo responds to his harshest critics with marks on the board!! >:)

It sent a shock through the Flyers (and their fans). Tank sent a pass to Syko that, had it connected, would have been a breakaway because the Flyers were caught sleeping at the wheel. Powe was called for hooking, but the Pens didn't score on this advantage. Then our awesome 3rd line finally struck gold. Cookie sent a beauty of a pass to TK, who promptly banged one home. [Pens 2, Flyers 0]

As shaky as Flower was in Game 3, he was THAT solid tonight. He made saves that Biron only wishes he could make. Flower robbed Briere with his pad, then had to make another great save on Lupul immediately following. But then the "dinosaur" (← Bibster's word, not mine) Knuble dove harder than Greg Louganis, which resulted in an interference penalty on Gill. No worries, though. The Flyers didn't score on their ill-gotten advantage.

But they got another power play when Gonch was called for tripping Hartnell. The crowd showed its approval with another "CROSBY SUCKS!!" although it was MARKEDLY more muted than prior chants were. On the penalty kill, Flower came out to play the puck. Richards used his skate on Flower's skate to trip him, but Flower still managed to make it back to his post as he fell to make a beauty of a save. If he hadn't have made the save, it wouldn't have mattered - Richards's jerkishness was seen by the officials. On the 4-on-4, Steigy mentioned the douchiness "sneakiness" of Richards as he relayed a story about how, during a scrum in the last game, Richards got his stick in between Siddo's legs and gave him a few whacks to the, um, Crosby Family Jewels. Of course, it went unseen by the refs. But then Bibster repeated what Steigy said in falsetto. Hilarious! (Though Sid might not think so...) Neither team scored while their players were in the boxes.

Flower made another beautiful save, and then another. Asham and TK each had good chances at either end of the ice. In the final 17.7 seconds of the period, Hartnell was nailed for interference on Gill. The Pens didn't score on their abbreviated advantage.

Third Period
Siddo rocketed a shot off the post, but the Pens didn't score on the rest of their power play, either. Tanger was whacked by (who else?) Richards and went down the runway in pain. A crowd of maybe 10 Flyers fans tried to get the "CROSBY SUCKS!!" chant going again, but to no avail. Steigy and Bibs gave a shout out to the PGH big screen crowd. :) Eaton was nailed for tripping. Flower made another unbelievable save on Timonen. Then a scrum erupted in front of the cage after Flower made yet another great save, Carle drove hard to net, ran over Flower, and put the puck into the goal. The crowd went bonkers when they realized that the ref had already blown the whistle after Flower's initial save. NO GOAL, no score on the Flyers' power play.

Flower lost his lid after Powe jumped on top of him. Play was whistled down and, curiously, the crowd booed a bit. (Uh, hello?! The officials are NOT going to let a goaltender play without a helmet. Come on now.) Carcillo tried and failed to sell a penalty on Scudsi, but TK was called for holding. On the penalty kill, Flower robbed Briere again. It was unreal. Cookie got away with a high stick on Carle. There was another feeble attempt to start a "CROSBY SUCKS!!" chant as the Flyers failed to score on their power play.

Then a sequence of unfortunate events led to a Flyers goal. Carcillo nearly scored, Geno helped Flower out with a save, Orpik knocked into Lupul, Lupul saw it as an opportunity to go into the Flower, Flower fell and was unable to get up to block Carcillo's second attempt. [Pens 2, Flyers 1] Play opened up and the crowd found hope which gave them new fire and much more passion for the "CROSBY SUCKS!!" chant. And then again, "CROSBY SUCKS!!"

Orpik took a high stick to his face from Knuble (no call). Pens fans held their collective breath for the next 5+ minutes. Then in the last 2 minutes, things got really crazy. Gonch pitched in to help his goalie with a heck of a clear from the blue paint to the corner. Scuds was a freaking BEAST and battled for possession against Hartnell after Hartnell crosschecked him HARD in the small of the back. The Flyers called for a timeout, and with 1:05 left in the game, they pulled Biron in favor of the extra attacker. At the 0:51.3 mark, Adams sent a beautiful, patient feed to Superstar Max, who then sent a looooooong shot into the back of the empty net. [Pens 3, Flyers 1]

The Flyers, for whatever reason, still opted to keep Biron out of the net. Adams had a chance to get an EN of his own, but Steigy and Bibs hypothesized that he didn't realize that Biron was out because he didn't take a shot. No matter - PENS WIN!!!

The series is now 3-1 in favor of our Boys, but remember - win number 4 is always the hardest win to get. Even so, I still say PENS IN 5!!! :D

GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Also, thank you so much to all the Friends who offered support about my Gram. It means a lot.