Sunday, October 31, 2010
BORN TO BE GIANTS is a kind of continuum of dinosaur parenting styles. Which is something I never really thought about. I knew dinosaurs hatched from eggs, and just kind of assumed that parenting styles were similar to those of modern day reptiles. This is actually not the case at all. Or it is the case sometimes, but not all of the time.
Lita Judge begins with the Saltasaurus, a dinosaur who did, in fact, lay thousands of eggs on a sandy riverbank and then leave them. Judge points out that some dinosaurs, such as Saltasaurus or Argentinosaurus were so large that they really couldn't protect their babies-- they would probably step on them and crush them. Other dinosaurs, like tyrannosaurus rex, however, did stay at their nests. They couldn't sit on their eggs (again, too heavy!) but they did watch over them and guard them from predators. Judge then explains that smaller dinosaurs, such as oviraptors, did sit on their nests, and may also have cared for their young.
Dinosaurs such as the Maiasaura were next along "care continuum." Maiasaura are alricial, meaning the babies have to stay in the nest and taken care of until they grow stronger. Other dinosaurs (and birds like geese) are precocial. They can care for themselves and hunt for food at birth, but stay with the parents for protection. And then there were other dinosaurs like troodon, that grew up with the pack, so that they could learn hunting skills.
Judge's fact-filled text is accompanied by her own water-color (I think) illustrations. Appendices in the back include a timeline and brief paragraph about each featured dinosaur, a glossary, a bibliography, and an author's note about her experiences with dinosaurs.
I loved thinking about dinosaurs through this new and different lens. I also think this would be a great mentor text for helping kids think about how authors organize nonfiction information.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
REVIEW COPIES PROVIDED BY PUBLISHER
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
It's a perfect night, then, for BUGS AND BUGSICLES. The book begins in late September, when a monarch butterfly, a honey bee, pavement ants, a praying mantis, a field cricket, and an arctic woolly bear caterpillar are just beginning their preparations for winter. Author Amy S. Hansen then follows eight different insects' journey through the winter.
The praying mantis lays three hundred eggs in a sticky, foamy egg sack, then dies. The ladybug engages in a special kind of hibernation (diapause), awakens in spring to mate, then most likely dies before summer. The Monarch Butterfly migrates to Mexico. And most interesting, the Arctic Woolly Bear Caterpillar freezes into a "bugsicle" then thaws out the next spring (and does this seven years in a row!)
The graceful, almost poetic writing in this book is enhanced by wildlife illustrator Robert Kray's beautiful, super-detailed illustrations of insects in a variety of habitats. Appendices include two experiments for young scientists to try. There is a also a list of books and websites for further reading, as well as a glossary and index. And for those of us who are trying to help kids understand text structures, this is a great example of an enumerative text with parallel topics.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Living life on the go
Meet the howlers!
and also a chunk of factual information about the howler monkey, e.g.
"Howler monkeys are named for their incredibly loud calls, which can be heard a mile away. Only adult male mantled howler monkeys can actually howl. Infants make quiet "play calls" and young males yip or squeak."
Sunday, October 24, 2010
So anyway, tonight I had to go to the laundromat. And I usually I don't particularly enjoy the laundromat. But tonight it wasn't so bad. Why, you ask? Well, because this afternoon at the library I found CLEMENTINE: FRIEND OF THE WEEK. And I love Clementine! I love that she finds the names of her pets in the bathroom, because there are so many beautiful words in there. I love that she is not perfect. I love her descriptions of her friend, Margaret, who is.
In this fourth book in the series, Clementine has been nominated for friend of the week. She wants people to write nice things in her "Friend of the Week" book, so she works hard at doing nice things for her classmates. She gives lots of compliments, sets up her own tattoo parlor on the playground, and makes big plans to help decorate everyone's bike for a weekend rally. Toward the end of the week, however, she is forced to put aside all of her plans when her kitten, Moisturizer, goes missing.
Clementine made the laundromat a whole lot more enjoyable tonight!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
At the top of the stack is 1+1=5 AND OTHER UNLIKELY ADDITIONS by David LaRochelle. This book kind of reminds me of an old, old friend, the ABC book, Q IS FOR DUCK, except it's focused on math. Each right hand page has the 1+1 math "fact," but each answer is different e.g. 1 +1 =3, or 1+1= 110 or 1+1=0. It's up to the reader to use the clues in Brenda Sexton's bright, digitally produced illustrations, to figure out the meaning of the equation, which is revealed on the next page. 1 +1 =3 (1 unicorn + 1 goat =3 horns), 1+1=hundreds (1 pumpkin +1 watermelon= hundreds of seeds), 1 +1 =0(1 snake +1 worm = 0 legs).
A really clever book that I think kids of all ages are going to absolutely love!
Friday, October 22, 2010
(aside from the fact that this is one of the babies that I pray for every day).
Son#2 at homecoming last week.
A Prayer for Children
By MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN
We pray for children
Who sneak popsicles before supper,
Who erase holes in math workbooks,
Who can never find their shoes.
And we pray for those
Who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
Who can't bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
Who never "counted potatoes,"
Who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead,
Who never go to the circus,
Who live in an X-rated world.
We pray for children
Who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.
And we pray for those
Who never get dessert,
Who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
Who watch their parents watch them die,
Who can't find any bread to steal,
Who don't have any rooms to clean up,
Whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
Whose monsters are real.
We pray for children
Who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
Who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
Who like ghost stories,
Who shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse out the tub,
Who get visits from the tooth fairy,
Who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
Who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,
Whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry.
And we pray for those
Whose nightmares come in the daytime,
Who will eat anything,
Who have never seen a dentist,
Who aren't spoiled by anybody,
Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
Who live and move, but have no being.
We pray for children who want to be carried and for those who must,
For those we never give up on and for those who don't get a second chance.
For those we smother ... and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.
We pray for children.
POETRY FRIDAY is at A WRUNG SPONGE.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Yesterday I posted a review of TUTUS AREN'T MY STYLE. Today's review features another main character trying to find her place in a world that doesn't quite fit her, but this time it's a YA novel, SONGS FOR A TEENAGE NOMAD.
Fourteen year old Calle (pronounced Callie) and her mother live a nomadic life. Calle's father left when she was very small, and she has spent most of her life moving from one California town to the next. Each time another relationship ends, Calle's mom, gets out a map, and tosses a coin, then they pack the car and move to wherever the coin has landed. Calle doesn't bother to make friends or put down roots, because she knows she won't be staying anywhere for very long. The one constant in her life is her song journal, where she records vignettes or memories inspired by different songs. Each chapter begins with one of these memories.
At the beginning of this book, Calle and her mom land in San Andreas Bay, one of the prettiest places they have ever lived. Contrary to her usual pattern, Calle become part of the drama crowd at school, and also becomes friends with Sam, a football player who is dealing with his own struggles at home. She also discovers a wooden box, then a drawer containing artifacts about her father and begins to piece together the pieces of that mystery.
This is one of those books where all of the pieces just work. The teenager living on the edge of high school piece. The absent father piece. The song journal. And it reads a little like a mystery, where you can wait to read the next chapter to see how all of the pieces fit together. But the ending, unlike most puzzles but true to most real lives, is more than a little messy. A great read that I will share with our sixth graders tomorrow.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Anyway, back to TUTUS--
Emma, clad in red cowboy boots, is hunting for bugs and pirate treasure in the front yard, when when the mailman delivers a package from her favorite uncle. She opens it to discover a frilly pink ballet costume. Emma has never really viewed herself as a ballerina, but wants to please Uncle Leo, so with a little advice from the mailman, as well as a neighbor walking her dogs, she takes on this new challenge. With an Emma-ish twist.
The results are predictable. First Emma, accompanied by the family cat, tries dancing outside, but crashes into a flowerbed. Ballet is supposed to be accompanied by music, so Emma gets out her kazoo, which unfortunately (though much to the delight of my seven and eight-year-old audience) sounds a little like burping. When Uncle Leo arrives, Emma is less than prepared to put on a performance…But, as you might expect, there's a really fun twist to the ending…
When we are done with the read aloud, Mrs. J asks if I will review story elements. We use "superstar comprehension" to run through the basics- character, setting, problem, and solution, and then because I am always curious about what children take away from books (and I'm totally fine if all they take away is a great story), I ask kids about the theme or life lesson. "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit!" suggests the burly, football playing E-man. "When someone gives you a present, even if it isn't what you wanted, you are supposed to be grateful," says A., who is supposedly one of the lowest readers in the class. "Everybody doesn't have to dance the same or be the same," declared the spectacled, serious Miss C.
A really fun read with some pretty great life lessons!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
But then on the other hand, I would really love to be getting on a plane tomorrow and heading for Portland, Maine, to honor my dear friend, Don Graves, and his wife, Betty, at a memorial service on Saturday morning…
I'm staying in Colorado, but a big chunk of my heart will be in Portland, Maine at 10:00 on Saturday morning.
by Henry Van Dyke
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone"
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"
And that is dying...
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
"Those trees you are cutting down today were not planted by you but by those who came before. You must plant trees that will benefit the community to come, like a seedling with sun, good soil, and abundant rain, the roots of our future will bury themselves in the ground and a canopy of hope will reach the sky."
SEEDS OF CHANGE is the biography of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. Maathai grew up in Kenya and attended college in the United States. When she returned to Kenya, Matthai was deeply saddened by the deforestation of her country. She started the Greenbelt Movement, a group which restored the Kenyan countryside by planting over thirty million trees. Matthai was a groundbreaker many times over-- when she was growing up, not many girls went to school, or continued on to college, or became university professors. At one point, she was even jailed by corrupt politicians more concerned about profits than reforestation. This is a well-told story with gorgeous, vibrant, richly illustrations (by artist Sonia Lynn Sadler) that beg to be closely examined.
I could use this book in a hundred ways. Our second graders are doing a science unit on trees and plants right now. Almost every day, a very serious seven-year-old reminds me that I should not cut down any trees because they give oxygen to the earth. I'll start by giving the book to them this morning. Our third graders are working on ecosystems and this book would be perfect for that unit. It's also a great biography. Or would be perfect in a unit on courage. Or change. Or the power of the individual. Or it might be fun to look for other books about Nobel Peace Prize winners and string them together. And then there are those illustrations, that just beg to be studied and imitated…
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Everything I need to know about teaching and writing (and a lot about life) I learned from Don Graves
From 1991-1995, I attended the University of New Hampshire, where I had the enormous privilege of learning from Don Graves, Jane Hansen, and Tom Newkirk. Don is, without a doubt, the most significant teaching and writing mentor I have ever had. I have often joked that I was going to get a little plastic bracelet that said WWDGD?
About ten days ago, I got an email that Don had passed away. Over the past week or so, I have attempted to capture a little of who Don was to me, and some of the significant lessons I learned from him. I don't think this piece is done, and maybe I will rework it, but I'm afraid that if I don't post it now, I never will. So here are a few of the lessons I learned from Don…
• Be real.
I met Don Graves when I interviewed for the doctoral program at UNH. At that time, folks in UNH- Don Graves, Don Murray, Jane Hansen, and Tom Newkirk were doing some of the most important literacy work in the United States and I felt a little like Dorothy on her way to meet the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz, as I slogged across campus dodging puddles in my high heels on that cold rainy late March day. First I met with Jane, then she took me down the hall. When Jane and I rounded the corner into Don’s office, I expected grandeur- maybe a heavy mahogany desk and oriental rug, certainly a secretary and a dark suit. Instead, we rounded a corner and were greeted by Don, who was sitting at a scratched wooden teacher desk, not unlike a million I have sat at during my career. He wore a plaid flannel shirt, levis, and tennis shoes, and was probably one of the most down to earth people I have ever met. When I got back to Denver, and people asked what Don was like, I replied, “He wore tennis shoes.”
• Stay close to your center.
Don was a famous man who did incredibly important work. He wrote more than twenty books. He traveled the world speaking about writing. He filled hotel ballrooms and mesmerized huge audiences at writing conferences for more than 25 years. Despite his popularity and fame, there was never any doubt about where Don was happiest and where he really wanted to be. And that was with Betty, always with Betty, his wife of more than fifty years. She was his best friend, his first reader, his travel companion, his anchor, the center of his universe. How I admired that relationship.
• Be true to your friends.
The Dons- Don Murray and Donald Graves were legends. But they were also best friends. They met at the Bagelry. They talked on the phone every single day. They responded each other’s writing. They walked through each other's dark times.
• Nulla dies sine linea.
Don began every day in his study. Books. Articles. One pagers. Keynotes. Sermons. Poems. Never a day without a line. This week, I’ve thought a lot about how far I have gotten from that in my own life.
• Be clear about your purpose.
Don was a practitioner, a pragmatist, a realist. When presented with an instructional innovation or practice, his first question was always,
“What’s it for?”That question, more than any other, has guided my practice for the past fifteen years.
• Teaching is about relationships.
If I had to describe Don in one sentence, I think I’d say, “Don understood the importance of relationships,” or maybe I’d say, “Every single person who knew Don believed they were important to him." If you asked me, I’d say I was one of Don’s favorite students. But I think JoAnn Portalupi would say the same thing. As would Cyrene Wells. Or Donna Qualley. Or any of the twenty other students who went through the doctoral program with me.
Don showed that he cared in so, so, so many ways. When my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer the summer before I was scheduled to start my dissertation, and I flew home to be with my family, Don called every two or three days, just to check on me. I pretty much decided that I was going to stay home and not finish the doctoral program and then Don called to ask if he could be on my doctoral committee. He came out of retirement, and drove from Jackson two or three times that year to support my work.
It wasn't, however, just the people in his UNH world that he knew and cared for. At conferences, people regularly approached Don. "I don't know if you remember me…" they would start. He always did. He always knew their names. He knew where they lived. How many children they had. What they taught. What they had talked about the last time they had been together.
People, more than anything else, mattered to Don.
• Community matters.
When I came to UNH, I expected that the program would be competitive, because every academic program I had ever been in, from the time I was very young, worked that way. Compete, compete, compete, compete, compete. Be better, be faster, be smarter than the guy next to you. I was surprised, then, to discover that the doctoral program at UNH was very different. For Don, community mattered more than anything. He held all of his classes in his study at his house, as opposed to a sterile room on campus. Because community mattered. He devoted large parts of his early classes to learning names and sharing stories. Because community mattered. We spent most of each class in pairs and small groups. Because community mattered. We knew and valued and responded to our classmates' writing and research. Because community mattered. Competition simply wasn’t part of the game. Because community mattered.
• Write with your students.
Don never asked students to do what he wouldn’t or couldn’t do himself. If we wrote a one pager, Don wrote a one pager. Many weeks, he started class by reading aloud his work. More than a decade later, Don and Penny Kittle wrote a book, INSIDE WRITING, about this topic. I suspect it was an easy book for Don to write because he drew on years and years and years of experience of writing with his students.
• Focus on strengths.
Don asked his graduate students to write one-page responses to reading (the dreaded UNH “one pager”) every single week. Like many students of my generation, I had endured many traumatic “red pen” writing experiences and am, at best, a reluctant writer. At first, Don (and Jane Hansen and Tom Newkirk’s) one pagers were tortuous experiences for me. Don read and responded to every one pager. His responses always addressed the content and thinking of the paper. He also usually included a line or two of comment about the craft. “You had such a powerful lead, Carol. I wonder how you might have circled around to that lead again in your conclusion” OR “I have never met anyone who can capture a child like you can. Be sure you include those vignettes in everything you write.” Knowing that I had strengths and tools I could use gave me the courage to step out and try other things.
Now fifteen years later, I hear Don’s voice every single time I sit down with a writer. “Respond to the message first, Carol. Find the strengths in the writing. Point out what’s good and ask the writer if they can do it again.” Aside from writing with and in front of kids, this is the most important tool I have for teaching kids (and adults) to write well.
• Students can accept big challenges as long as you place big safety nets below them.
In its earliest days and maybe even more so now, people have often said that writing workshop lacked rigor. That was not at all the way that Don intended it to be. His classes were tough, tough, tough. I remember, in particular, a class on research in writing. We had to select a topic, design a research study, carry it out, and then present the findings. My finished document was 75 pages. In January, when the semester began, the task appeared insurmountable. But Don broke it down. Spent two weeks helping us construct good questions. Had us repeat our questions over and over and over again. Spent another couple of weeks on how to gather research. Asked us to write one pagers about our findings almost every single week. The last week of class, we all marveled at how we had climbed Mount Everest. Don was not surprised. “Students can take on any challenge,” he said, “as long as you place big safety nets below them.”
• The person doing the talking is the person doing the learning.
People came to UNH to learn from Don Graves. Don knew a lot and could have easily filled our three hours graduate classes each week. But Don believed that people learn by talking to each other. And he lived that belief in his teaching. Don was prepared for classes, and he always did a little talking, but mostly he expected students to talk to and learn from each other. His classes were rich with conversation.
• Never stop learning.
o During my initial interview for the UNH program, I made a comment about Don having "completed" his work on the writing process. Don graciously informed me that that was not the case at all, that actually he had just begun. "The day I stop learning," he said, "will be the day I stop teaching." Don was a learner. Whether it be studying children's writing, or crafting poetry, or birding, or preparing to visit a new place with Betty, Don was a learner. He was always a learner.
Travel well, dear friend. Travel well!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
I've spent my entire career in urban schools. And I love them. I love teaching kids who really need me. Kids who haven't heard stories read aloud. Kids who aren't enrolled in umpteen after school lessons and clubs and team . Kids who don't travel every vacation. Kids who need me.
This year, though, has been particularly hard. There is a new hard story every single day. A grieving eight-year-old whose brother died in a drive by shooting at a nearby strip mall. Two little guys being raised by a pregnant teenage sister. A "family" of what seems like twenty people living in a thousand square foot bungalow, with seven or eight assorted kids that come to school and are supposed to function, despite not having slept in beds, or been fed anything that closely resembles nutritional meals.
I believe in books. Believe that they have the power to help kids see bigger worlds. The power to transform. Or sometimes just the power to escape the hard worlds they live in. But I'm having trouble this year finding books that match my kids' lives.
This weekend, I read a graphic novel that I will be taking to school to share with our intermediate grade students. YUMMY: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, by G. Neri, is the true story of Robert "Yummy" Sandifer," an eleven-year-old gang member, growing up in the projects of Chicago. Yummy was being raised by his grandmother, who was also raising about twenty other grandchildren.
When Yummy was nine or ten, he joined the Black Disciples Nation gang. The gangs liked the younger boys because at that age, the boys could commit crimes, but could not be convicted of felonies. One day, in a street fight gone awry, Yummy shoots and kills Shavon Dean, an innocent fourteen-year-old who hoped to become a beautician. The story, told through the eyes of Roger, one of Yummy's classmates, might help one of my students to make safer, wiser choices. It might help kids or teachers to see a child through different eyes. It might keep one child out of gangs.
Yummy is a book that my students need.
Friday, October 8, 2010
It's definitely fall in Colorado with mornings that are chilly enough to make me grab a jacket, but somehow, the rose bush at my neighbor's house (which is not currently occupied because it's being renovated) has mysteriously burst into full bloom. We just moved into the house this summer, so I don't know if it does that every fall, but it kinda seems like a reminder to seek joy in the midst of what have been a couple of long, hard weeks.
I wasn't surprised, yesterday, to learn that Don Graves had touched many of your lives. I'm still trying to wrap my head and the heart around his "goneness...." Thanks so much for sharing your memories and condolences. And now for the Poetry Friday Roundup…
- Today is John Lennon's 70th birthday (does anyone else remember watching The Beatles first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Jama Rattigan has devoted an entire post to this event and includes, The Wish Tree by Yoko Ono, a poem that would be a great "cousin" for Langston Hughes, "A Dream Deferred."
- "Columbus Day," by Charles Ghigna (Father Goose) is another poem that will be perfect to share with students next week.
- And "Mine Host of the Golden Apples" at Kurious Kitty is perfect for the end of apple season on the Atlantic Seaboard.
- "October Berries" is another harvest offering from Julie Reinhardt, a barbecue restaurant owner/poet from Seattle
- Ted Kooser's "Neighbors in October," from Tricia at Miss Rumphius Effect is another "absolutely right for this time of year" poem. I especially loved the last line, "Bagging gold for days to come" and thought of pairing it with Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay" for our fifth and sixth graders next week.
- And of course there is that favorite black and orange holiday at the end of the month. Andromeda Jazmon shares HALLOWILLOWEEN- a book that I sooo need to run out and by this weekend at Wrung Sponge.
Poems About Poetry
- In addition to his Columbus Day poem, Charles Ghigna also shares "The Magic of Poetry," a beautiful poem about poetry (is there anything better than a poem about poetry?) at Bald Ego.
- Wow, wow, wow-- let's have a round of applause for Amy who presents her 19th and no that is not a typo, original poem about poetry at The Poem Farm! And it's lovely! The other 18 poems are listed in the sidebar so you can go back and check out some of those as well.
- David Elzey wrote "Buke," about an adolescent experience with the poet, Charles Bukowski. A previous entry about the first Bukowski poetry book David purchased reminded made me think about how distant mentors can impact young writers…
- And although it's not exactly a poem about poetry, "Trees" at Kurious K's Kwotes, is definitely a poem for poets.
- Tabatha Yeatts gives us LOOKING FOR JAGUAR AND OTHER RAINFOREST POEMS, along with a link for what sounds like it might be a really interesting blog and some very sobering aerial photographs of the rain forest.
- At Paper Tigers, you'll find some fun animal couplets from THE SELECT NONSENSE OF SUKUMAR RAY. I have PYROTECHNICS ON THE PAGE, Ralph Fletcher's new book about word play, on my list of books I want to to read. Sukumar Ray sounds like it would fit perfect into that category.
- At Wild Rose Reader, Elaine Magliaro reviews ONE BIG RAIN, twenty poems about rain throughout the year. Elaine hunted through her own body of work and found several more rainy day poems.
- Head over to The Write Sisters to read Barbara's very clever poem about change, and no, it's not the kind of change you are thinking about!
- At A Writer's Armchair, Toby Speed shares the original "Fold Me Up With the Laundry," a perfect parent poem. I think this would make a great picture book Toby!
- Laura Purdie Salas shares "The Insult" an original found poem. You can also " button in" to a whole bunch of original 15 word or less poems by a variety of poets at Laura's 15 word or poems post.
- Linda Kulp offers a poem about bullying. I'm going to use this with our intermediate graders, who have been having a few "issues" this week.
- Heidi Mordhorst participated in Laura's 15 word or less poem challenge and also provides information about SPARK, an intriguing opportunity for authors and artists to interact with each other's work.
- If you are looking for other opportunities to share your original poetry, Pat invites you to post your poems at her site, Quotes and Poems.
- Don Graves often opened graduate classes by reading poetry and Seamus Haney was one of his favorites. It seems somehow fitting, then, that Haney won the Forward Prize the week that Don passed away, and also that Haney's work made its way into Poetry Friday. Go to Castle in the Sea for a link to Haney's reading.
- When I think about my life in New Hampshire, some of my best memories involve sitting at a dear friend's kitchen counter, watching her roll pie crust and knead pizza dough. At the Stenhouse blog, we find Shirl McPhillips "Rolling Pin," a poem about the things we take/leave from our mothers. Be sure to follow the link to "Shaking Up the Muse," Shirl's poem from the previous week.
- Sometimes poetry just makes me laugh. Yesterday was one of those long, hard days when I wondered whether my child might end up on Jerry Springer talking about his dysfunctional mother's parenting skills (OK, if I am totally honest, I am actually absolutely sure he will end up there). This morning I read George Bilgere's "Return of Odysseus" on Karen Edmisten's blog. And laughed.
- In another take on poetry as a lens for understanding life, Liz Garton Scanlon gifts us with Tony Hoaglund's "Taking It Personal" a poem that she describes as "both both beautiful and accessible, both story and metaphor, both humor and utter conviction."
- Mary Lee took a week off to have surgery (thanks for filling in Franki!) but she's back this week with "Did I Miss Anything?"
- And it wouldn't be Poetry Friday if we didn't have at least one offering from the Bard Himself. You can get your weekly dose of Shakespeare from Ruth at "There is No Such Thing as a God Forsaken Town."
- While we are on the subject of much-loved bards, this rendition of Shel Silverstein's "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout," at Blue Rose Girls is terrific. Think I'd like to ask some of our students if they'd like to try selecting images from a favorite poem and putting them together.
- Jeannine Atkins tells some great stories about a visit to Steepletop, Edna St. Vincent Millay's home. It seems St. Vincent Millay's sister lived in the house for 30 years after Edna's death, but didn't want to disturb anything, even going so far as to hang her clothes on the shower rod instead of in the closet. And I loved the pictures of Edna St. Vincent' Millay's writing cottage! I want one of those (with no messy, mouthy, moody teenagers!).
- Laura Shovan, Author Amok, tells us that she is headed to the 13th Annual Dodge Poetry Festival, where she will hear Iraqi-American poet Dunya Mikhail. In honor of that event, she's posted "War Works Hard," a heavy and powerful list poem.
- Diane Mayr (Random Noodling) is also headed to the Dodge Poetry Festival, and gives us descriptions of some of the sessions she's hoping to attend. Sounds like a great event if you are anywhere near Newark!
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Welcome to Poetry Friday!
so I've missed the last two Poetry Fridays.
I'm glad to be back
and I'm doubly glad to be hosting Poetry Friday.
by Donald Graves
Bobby Nelson is the toughest kid in our class;
I am the smallest.
His hoarse voice finds me every day
on the way to school and home again.
"Hey Rabbit, whatcha doin'?"
A rock drops into my gut.
He walks next to me,
throws his elbows into my ribs
and edges me into the curb
hoping I'll take a swing at him.
I tried once
and he flipped
me like a toy dog.
One day, Jim, my best friend, gets fed up
with Nelson's jabs and taunts.
Someone on the playground yells, "Fight"
and a ring of kids surround them.
"Hit 'im Jim."
"Take him, Nelson."
They shove back and forth
saying, "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah."
"Think you're big."
"Think you're tough."
Nelson takes a swing.
Jim catches his arm.
and twists him to the ground.
The dust flies. The circle cheers.
Jim sits on Nelson
like we own the playground
the school, and everything in it.
Travel well, dear friend, travel well.
Leave your link in the comments below. I will update periodically throughout the day.