April News

April has been a busy, crazy, fun, busy, poetical, busy, bunny business month–and it’s not over yet.
So before it gets any crazier, I’ll share what I’ve been reading, doing, writing…

Who says libraries are just for books? Not the Lorain, Ohio children’s librarians! They are encouraging kids to explore their creative side in fashions with “Sew Lorain Kids.” A long time ago I worked in a couple of libraries in the Cleveland area. I’m so glad to see that the librarians there are continuing to be innovative. There are so many great craft how-to books in libraries, but why not give kids a chance to actually put the lessons into practice. My hats off to all of you in Lorain!!!

 I’ve been working on a variety of writing projects–one of them is an easy reader narrative nonfiction book on stars. So I was delighted to see a new book by Kathleen T. Isaacs which highlights picture books dealing with nature: BUGS, BOGS, BATS, AND BOOKS. Young readers–as well as their parents–often need help in finding age-appropriate books on various nonfiction subjects. This title also including science activities relating to various topics in the book. Look for this book at the library or ask your librarian to help you find some delightful nonfiction books to share with your children.

Kuddos to another librarian–this time with the focus on poetry. Thinking totally outside of the norm, Cathy Jo Nelson, a South Carolina educator, blogs about “The Unexpected Perks of Poetry.” She and a teacher collaborated on a poetry assignment–encouraging the students to create poems from words in book titles: spine poetry. Ms. Nelson elaborates in her blog about the many bonuses of this activity for both students and faculty. Poetry always seems to expand the world for us.

I’m writing the rough draft of chapter book with a poetic ghost in it. Although the story didn’t start out with a lyrical ghost, she just appeared out of thin air–so to speak. And who am I to tell her that she doesn’t belong in this story. I might be haunted for eternity…so I continue writing.

 Apparently April is also NATIONAL HUMOR MONTH. Although I was unaware of this, I have been reading some humorous picture books of late. A couple of favorites are CREEPY CARROTS by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown. Here is a video by the illustrator explaining how he envisioned the sneaky carrots. My two-year-old grandson loves this books. We’ve read it over and over again. I’ve even made him his own creepy carrots with real carrots and a black sharpie. Beware biting into that next crispy, orange carrot! There may be many more lurking in the shadows–just waiting to pounce!!!

The other fun picture I’ve been studying of late is WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN by Jodi Moore, illustrated by Howard McWilliam. The author uses the “what if” storyline to create an elaborate beach day fantasy complete with fire-breathing dragon. And the illustrator brings the creature to life with humor and charm, sure to entertain children of all ages. But of course, there is the dilemma–once a dragon moves in how do you get him to move out??? Rather like the moles in my backyard, I’m afraid. 🙂

So here’s hoping April is poetically humorous–and beware of carrot-eating dragons, or something like that!

Holiday Poetry

A fun way to celebrate the holiday season for children of all ages is to create poetry. The poetry could be part of a Christmas card greeting, or a decoration to hang on the tree, or just a celebration of the winter season.

For young children, the poem can be a simple free verse phrase or two.
For older children, rhyme and rhythm can be incorporated.
For all, the choice of subjects abounds from wintery scenes, to well-known Christmas themes, or  even end of year reminiscing.

A simple poem exploring a winter scene is Winter Treats, found on my website. Use this poem to encourage children to look outside and describe a scene they see. Can they bring the scene to life with their words?

An example of a Santa poem at Essential Learning Products is Hip! Hip! Hooray! by Beverly McLoughland. This poem could be used with children to jump start their poetry writing. It also could be used as a geography lesson, traveling the globe with Santa.

For a more spiritual poem, read Christmas Day, also found on my website. Have the child find a Christmas card picture or perhaps an ornament that he likes. Then have the child use this image to create a poem in rhyme, free verse, or haiku.

Poetry should be a fun and creative process. There are no rights or wrongs–only writes!


Poems don’t always need to be serious. They can be tons of fun. Here is a light-hearted poem I created today:


My clumsy kitty, Henry,
Today was an acrobat.
He leaped from stair to chair
But landed flat upon his back.

He fluffed his tattered tail out
And twisted to a stand.
I pretended not to see his stunt
And giggled behind my hand.

My Henry is not graceful
Or light upon his four feet,
But he purrs most perfectly
And couldn’t be more sweet.

For more fun poems, look for these books at school or at your local library:

A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC by Shel Silverstein
ALMOST LATE TO SCHOOL: AND MORE SCHOOL POEMS by Carol Diggory Shields and Paul Meisel


I know it’s hard to believe April is here already.
But when I look out my window and see the trees and daffodils in bloom, I know it’s true.
And what a better month to celebrate poetry than in this colorful month of APRIL.

A HAIKU is a perfect poem to start the month off with. A short, simple poem which usually highlights nature–only three lines. The first and third lines each has five syllables and the second line has seven.

A scrubbed puppy just

after a bath and just
before a mud puddle

I gave this Haiku a title, but you don’t have to.
See how easy that is. Go ahead–give it a try!

March Adventures

Poet, Kenn Nesbitt, has a fun mobile poetry site you can enjoy wherever you are. Using a iPhone, Blackberry, or other mobile web brower, type in this link: http://poetry4kids.com/m. You’ll be able to read and hear Kenn’s silly poetry. You can also visit his online site: poetry4kids.com

Can you write your own silly poem? Why not give it a try. I bet you’ll be surprised with the results.

If you enjoy puzzles, challenge yourself to HIGHLIGHTS March Hidden Picture Puzzle. Can you find all the hidden pictures?

Have fun!

Teachers First with Poetry

I am very pleased to announce that TEACHERS FIRST.com chose my poem, Buggy Alphabetics,” as a teaching poem on their website.

Click on the link to TeachersFirst.com and scroll down the page a bit for a quick hands-on poetry lesson featuring my poem–so wonderfully illustrated on my website by Nikki Schaefer. Of course, you’ll want to visit my acrobatic bugs in the
Writings section of my website, so you can enjoy the slideshow as well.
If you want to try an ABCEDARIAN–an alphabetic poem that uses the letters A-Z in proper order as the first letters of every line–start with only a few letters. As you become more comfortable with this poetic challenge, see how far you can go–alphabetically–with your lines. In a new Abcedarian I created below, I give myself a little leeway with an extra word, here and there, after the main letter word on a few lines. I also use two semi-invented words. (Can you find them?) That’s why poetry is so much fun–it’s puzzles and puns and wordplay all wrapped up in the coolest formats.
Give an ABCEDARIAN a try!
For the Festivities,
Holly berries
In a
Loaded with
Nuts and
Quota for the
Sparrows, and
Turtle doves’
Warblings and

Children’s Book Week

Sorry it’s halfway through the week already before I had the chance to remind you about CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK. Click on the link and you’ll find a great bookmark you can print. 

Since 1919, Children’s Book Week has been celebrated in the United States. Schools, libraries, publishers, bookstores and of course, children enjoy this special week, highlighting books and reading.
Click here if you want to help choose the next Children’s Choice Book Awards
or here to see the 2008 winners’ list.
What great children’s books have I been reading this week?
The title says it all for this poetry how-to book. Discover your inner poet when you take this book out for a spin.
These poems are totally out-of-sight! The author shares some star-worthy poems and gives insight into poetry lingo.
When is a poem also a picture? If you don’t know, you’ll want to dive into this whirl of words.
HOW TO TALK TO YOUR DOG by Jean Craighead George
The author explains dog walk, talk, and body language. You’ll decipher your dog’s messages in a flash. Fun and informative.
HERO CAT by Eileen Spinelli
Don’t miss this sweet picture book highlighting a mother cat’s heroic efforts to save her young kittens from a fire. This book is based on a true story. Both the artwork and writing are wonderful.
OK. Now it’s YOUR turn. What incredible children’s books have you been reading???

National Library Week, National Poetry Month, Earth Day, and More

This has been a busy week. It’s NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK, so I certainly hope you’ve visited your local library at least once this week. I’m reading Elise Broach’s fun mystery story for middle grade readers called, MASTERPIECE. A cockroach named Marvin is the main character. He has an amazing talent which takes him on an adventurous quest. Click on the link and hear the author read from the book.

And it still POETRY MONTH. I’ve been writing a poem a day. How about you? One of my favorite young adult novels is written in free verse poetry–OUT OF THE DUST by Karen Hesse. Or another free verse novel, this one a middle grade read by Sharon Creech, is LOVE THAT DOG. This story is wonderful also.
Monday, April 20, is EARTH DAY. Here are 3 suggestions for green activities:
  • cut two minutes off your morning shower to conserve water
  • pick up trash in your neighborhood
  • plant a tree or some wildflower seeds

What else can you think of do? 

Last, but not least, I invite you to visit MY LIGHT magazine for the April issue which features my article on St. Catherine of Siena, a 14th century young adult celebrity. 

Writing Poetry about THE World’s LARGEST Ball of Twine

Okay, have you been doing it?

Writing a new poem every day during POETRY month this April???
I’m so proud of myself. So far (5 whole days) I’ve managed to do it.
My poems are posted among the hundreds of poems (click on Comments)
I’m amazed how much fun it has been–this poetry challenge. 
Mr. Brewer presents a new poetry topic each day.
So far, these are the prompts: origin poem; outsider poem; The problem with ____; animal poem; landmark poem.
Those prompts have helped me create poems on the etymology of “word;” pear tree blossoms;problems; a robin; and THE WORLD’S LARGEST BALL OF TWINE, in Kansas anyway. 
Now it’s your turn to try writing poetry.
Remember, poems don’t have to rhyme. 
Free verse poems are very close to regular talking–only you can break up the words and phrases the way you want to. 
And you can use zinger words–words that pack a punch. Words that sound special or mean something special or make people almost smell something or see something special.
And poems don’t have to be serious either. Read some of Robert Lansky’s silly poems at GIGGLE POETRY.  Be sure and check out his POETRY CLASS where he shows you how to write all different types of poetry. I’ve highlighted some of them in the paragraph above. 
Henry, my yellow and white kitty,(see photo at the top) suggested a poetry prompt you can try for today: CATS.
And he wanted to let you know that he, and Herman & Holly are featured today at Mayra Calvani’s blog: “PETS and AUTHORS.”

No Fooling–April Is All About POETRY

Happy April Fool’s Day!

Has anyone played a joke on you? I can remember on one bright and springy April 1st when I was about 6 my dad called from the front room. “Hurry! Come and look. It’s snowing.” 
My brothers and I came running. All we could see out the big front window was sunshine and almost green grass. No snow.
“April Fool’s!” Dad said with a grin.
Snow would be an unexpected event for April–although not unheard of. Mother Nature does have a way of playing tricks on us sometimes. One Easter in Oklahoma, we had several inches of snow. No fun looking for Easter Eggs in snow mounds.
April is a fun and busy month. In April we celebrate POETRY and NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK and EARTH DAY.
If you’d like to learn how to write a poem, go to Kenn Nesbit’s Poetry for Kids website. He has lots of fun stuff for you–funny poems, poetry games, podcasts, poetry links, and more.
Mr. Nesbit has a new poetry book out this month–My Hippo Has the Hiccups. What a great title! I’m sure the poems are just as silly. In fact, you can read one, “Don’t Ever Bite Your Sister,” when you click on the title above.
Can you write a poem every day this month? Why not give it a try.
Start right now…