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Love to You

I took these photos at a small memorial my partner and I held at the pond near my home this morning to honor and remember the Orlando victims. Please feel free to share them if you wish. And, most importantly, love to you all.

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17270515SERAFINA’S PROMISE by Ann E. Burg is a middle grade verse novel about a young girl growing up in Haiti during a time of repeated natural disasters. It won a whole host of awards, and deserves every one. This book is an absolute treasure.

 

Burg’s writing flows easily, and readers are swept into the story of Serafina’s dreams and reality as her family struggles with the trials of poverty amid personal and national disasters. The story is gripping. Serafina feels like a girl you could meet in the real world: she has courage, determination, and flaws. But, the main reason I want to recommend SERAFINA’S PROMISE to everyone is the absolutely incredible ending. Burg’s ending not only allows the story to continue, but demands it. And even more impressive, by ending the book the way she does, Burg manages to highlight the most important emotional themes of the story and engage readers more intensely than ever before just when we expect to be able to put down the book.

 

That’s it. I won’t say another word. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read SERAFINA’S PROMISE yourself. (If you do, or already have, I’d love to hear from you so we can talk about the ending!)

 

 

 

I have been largely lurking online (instead of creating blog/Patreon content) this last month or so, because the writing side of things has been super busy! I’m one of those writers who likes to have a project in every stage of publishing: rough draft, editing, submission, with a publisher. Right now, things are very exciting because that’s exactly what the state of my writing has been! I feel like I’m living a dream…

 

Also, this month, I embarked on learning writing-related computer programs I’ve wanted to try for a while. I finally installed the Lightroom software I got for Christmas, and I got Scrivener (Thanks, oh critique group, for the suggestion!). Let me tell you, Lightroom makes organizing 4,000+ research photos much, much easier. And Scrivener is interesting, because it enables all my writing tools to go digital for easy transport– right down to the endless stacks of outlining index cards. It will make a good backup system, in case tea spills all over my research.

 

But, I still prefer things in hard copy. I like having my research in binders, so that I don’t have to have the computer on while I write. I love handwriting my first drafts. So, in honor of handwriting, and because it is #PoetryFriday, I am throwing out into the universe a silly, and very rough, poem about one of my favorite writing tools. Because, why not?

 

GLITTERY GEL PENS

 

You make even the most

cliché rough draft

sparkle with promise.

 

You let me pick a color

to match the mood

of my manuscript.

 

Best of all, you run out of ink fast.

Writing until the pen runs out

always makes me feel accomplished.

 

Glittery gel pens,

you rock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9780803739925ECHO ECHO: REVERSO POEMS ABOUT GREEK MYTHS by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josée Masse. Once again, Marilyn Singer has stunned me with a gorgeous collection of reverso poems. I’ll admit, I love Greek myths. But, it is the reverso form that is truly makes this book one that you should run out and grab right now. The book cover flap declares: “The reverso form was invented when Marilyn Singer wrote a poem that could be read both up and down, so that it would have different meanings in each direction.” How many poets living today can lay claim to inventing a whole new form of poetry? Echo Echo isn’t just gorgeously illustrated. It isn’t just a book that tells Greek myths from two perspectives, bringing insight, heart, and humor to bear on these beloved stories. It is also a book that is part of cutting-edge new ideas in poetry… and kidlit readers get to see them first.

 

9780399169137DANIEL FINDS A POEM by Micha Archer. Teachers looking for a book to use in their poetry unit this month should go out and get a copy of DANIEL FINDS A POEM. This is a sweet picture book  about a boy writing a poem with the help of the animals in a park just outside a city. The culmination of the book is my new favorite example for a list poem. This book makes a beautiful storytime read, and could be used as a great introduction to lessons on sensory details, perspective, and more general conversations about poetry and  where poets get their ideas.

 

9781596438521WHEN GREEN BECOMES TOMATOES: POEMS FOR ALL SEASONS  by Julie Fogliano, pictures by Julie Morstad. Not only is April Poetry Month, it’s also the month of Earth Day. So, why not combine the two, and read WHEN GREEN BECOMES TOMATOES? What I love about this book is its focus on the emotional impact of the changing seasons. WHEN GREEN BECOMES TOMATOES doesn’t just talk about what happens in each
season, it explores those little moments when our emotions are focused on a single environmental detail. Simply put, this is one beautiful book that I can’t stop re-reading. I hope you love it as much as I do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

9781481432726Spring is here, and you know what that means… bunnies! I’ve been seeing bunnies practically every time I step onto my local bike path, and they’re everywhere in decorations. If you’re looking for a brand-new, gorgeous book about rabbits, look no farther than Jorey Hurley’s new book hop.

 

hop is a fantastic example of a picture book that is a true marriage of text and illustration. In fifteen words (yes, only fifteen!) and double-page spreads, Hurley communicates to the reader a whole range of information about Cottontail Rabbits. The art is the real teacher here. Everything in the illustrations is researched meticulously, from the way foxes pounce, to the way rabbits react in a variety of situations. The words serve to highlight the actions and information in the illustrations.

 

hop is the perfect ecology book for very young children: simple, educational, and most of all fascinating. Because of the scarcity of text, parents and children are encouraged to interact with the images, pointing out what’s happening and marveling at everything the bunnies do.  And, to make it even better, a fabulous backmatter page gives a whole host of detailed Cottontail Rabbit information, should the reader be interested. (There’s even a little bit about rabbits living in cities in there!)

 

So, hop to it, and find a copy of this fabulous book! (I know I know, but the pun was there, and I just couldn’t resist…)

Hello to the first snow of Spring! Today, I am excited to publish my next Patreon-funded resource: an outdoor activity designed for the day after a snow storm. I asked my $3 and up patrons to vote on the resource the wanted me to make next, and this was their choice. Click on this link for a great outdoor activity do with your kids on a snow day like today: OUTDOOR CONNECT THE DOTS

 

This activity is part of my Patreon campaign to make resources for helping city kids connect to nature.  For more information, visit my Patreon page by clicking here.

One of the beautiful things about writing is that I never know where it will lead. In the past year, I’ve been lucky enough to have my writing lead me all over the world. I explored remote regions of Crete in search of mashed yellow peas that are cooked much the same way the Minoans made them thousands of years ago. I went on a crazy cab ride to a ruin outside of Naples and stood in a spot written about in the Aeneid. And, most recently, I visited a chimpanzee sanctuary in Canada where I had the honor of being spat upon by a chimpanzee. (No, that’s not sarcastic. I was honored to visit this chimpanzee’s home, and being spat on was a very fair price to pay!)

 

To me, writing begins with a willingness to seek out knowledge and grab onto opportunities, knowing that one day something I experience might enrich a story I want to tell. I might never use all the strange things I’ve done because “one day I might write about it” in a book or poem. But, it’s safe to say that this has been a handy excuse for more than one adventure!

 

So, thank you writing. I couldn’t be this zany without you!

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