Monday, November 9, 2009

The Last Thing I Remember

Klavan, Andrew. 2009. The Last Thing I Remember. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson. ISBN: 978595546074.

"It was an ordinary day," high schooler Charlie West told himself as he tries to remember. But he doesn't remember much. His memory of what had happened between going to bed one night and waking up to a chair in a torture chamber with bloodied instruments is vague if not completely non-existent. After escaping his mysterious captors only to be caught by police who tell him that he is a convicted murderer of his former best friend one year prior, Charlie is one the run of his life as he tries to piece together what happened. All the while he tries to stop the assassination plot against the Secretary of Homeland security by a secret terrorist organization whose members call Charlie one of their own. Edgar Award-winning author, Klavan's debut Young Adult novel presents a post 9/11 thriller dealing with a terrorist group hidden among the American homelands. Though some readers may find him too clean-cut and all-American for comfort, Charlie brings a patriotic character to the teen boy literature subgenre and brings plenty of action being a black belt in karate. While the narrative may be dry in some areas readers will be caught up in the currently unsolved mystery of what exactly happened to Charlie during that missing year and will leave them waiting for the next book in the new Homelander series to come out. Included in the back are discussions questions that allows for future discussions great for a classroom or library book club setting.

Use the provided questions to encourage discussion about the book and character on top of creating your own.
Allow the readers to comment about their likes and dislikes about the book.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hallowe'en - A Poetry Break

Halloween can by fun and exciting as well as cool and creepy. Perfect for a creepy Halloween party, read this poem to begin the festivities.


By Harry Behn

Tonight is the night
When dead leaves fly
Like witches on switches
Across the sky,
When elf and sprite
Flit through the night
On a moony sheen.

Tonight is the night
When leaves make a sound
Like a gnome in his home
Under the ground,
When spooks and trolls
Creep out of holes
Mossy and green.

Tonight is the night
When pumpkins stare
Through sheaves and leaves
When ghoul and ghost
And goblin host
Dance round their queen
It's Hallowe'en!
Invite the kids to share their ideas of what Halloween is to them. Is it creepy or is it fun? Also, let them have fun and make a haunting and creepy poem to share.

Livingston, Myra Cohn (Sel.). 1989. Halloween Poems. Illus. by Stephen Gammell. NY: Holiday House. ISBN: 0823407624.

Apple Bobbing - A Poetry Break

This is a fun poem to read. Whether it's a for a Halloween party or a fall festival bobbing for apples has become a stable activity to include in the festivities. Be sure to have fun reading the poem, emphasizing the blubing sound of bobbing in the water. Encourage the kids to make the "blub" sounds too!

Apple Bobbing
By R. H. Marks

Bobbing for (blub blub) for apples
.......... for bobbing
.......... for bobbling
.......... for boppling
.......... for apples

................. in tubs

......... for bapples (blub) apples
......... for bopples
......... for blapples
......... for bouncing red abbles

................. boapples

................. (blap blub)

After sharing the poem, invite the kids to take turns bobbing for an apple. Also encourage them to share what type of sounds they hear and make when they do, like the poem illustrates.

Livingston, Myra Cohn (sel.). 1989. Halloween Poems. Illus. by Stephen Gammell. NY: Holiday House. ISBN: 0823407624.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Day of Autumn! - To Each His Own - A Poetry Break

Autumn can be peaceful and wonderful season to watch the world around you change. When reading this poem aloud, read it slowly then reactant to the actions of the leaves that are falling in the poem. Mimicking the actions of the leaves in the poem will add the touch of action and realism to the poem that the listeners will appreciate. Share this poem with Hines' other poem "Ode to a Rake" from the same book.


To Each His Own
by Anna Grossnickle Hines

..When the leaves fall
....some float
....and taking all
...........................drift the ground.
Some flutter
.....audibly uttering
.................................of sound.
When the leaves fall
..........come in bunches
..................and whirling
.....and twirling
And some
.......just drop
After read this poem have a little field trip outside so that the children and experience and witness the real falling trees. Ask them if they see the leaves that are being described in the poem. Have them describe in prose or poetic form how the leaves fall down from the trees at school or at home. If Autumn hasn't sprung and the leaves are falling in your area, bring a bag of faux leaves and have them flutter inside.

Hines, Anna Grossnickle. 2001. Pieces: A Year in Poems & Quilts. NY: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins Publishers). ISBN: 0688169643.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Favorite Pencil - A Poetry Break

Everyone has their favorite pencil or pen that they like to use when writing homework or doodling. This poem provides three different students and their description of their favorite pencil. Prepare the poetry break by writing your own poem about her favorite pencil (or pen) and sharing it with the class or group of kids. Be sure to show your favorite pencil so they can also see it!


My Favorite Pencil
by Kalli Dakos


My favorite pencil
Is short and fat
And has an eraser
For a hat.

My favorite pencil broke in two,
and I tried to fix it up with glue.

Invite the children to write their own poem about there favorite pencil. Let them describe it in anyway that they view their writing instrument. It will be fun to see what characteristics and personification that they see in their pencils! Also, share other poems about school supplies, like Lee Bennett Hopkin's School Supplies: A Book of Poems.

Dakos, Kalli. 1995. Mrs. Cole on an Onion Roll and Other School Poems. Illus. by Joann Adinolfi. NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. IBSN: 0027255832.

The Eraser Poem - A Poetry Break

This poem is meant to be seen and to be heard aloud as it wonderfully uses both senses. A creative way to present the poem is to write it on a chalk board or a white board. Write the entire poem as "The eraser poem" and as you read the poem aloud you can erase one letter as you go. Also bring supplies, whether paper and pencil, or chalk or markers for the boards, so the listeners can try.

The Eraser Poem
by Louis Phillips

The eraser poem.
The eraser poem
The eraser poe
The eraser po
The eraser p
The eraser
The erase
The eras
The era
The er
The e

Let the children create a poem that is erased. Let them do the erasing randomly to see what will become of the poem then have the do it again but think about what they are going to erase. Compare the two versions and see to see which one they like better. It will be fun to see the difference between all of the students, and not only will the poem become something interesting to share aloud, but also become visually intriguing at the same time.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett, sel. 1996. School Supplies: A Book of Poems. Illus. by Renee Flower. NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 0689804970.

For Me?

van Straaten, Harmen. 2007. For Me?. Trans. by MaryChris Bradley. NY: NorthSouth Books. ISBN: 09780735821637.

When Duck discovers that someone had left him a rose and a note with only a heart drawn on it he takes it to his friend Toad. Toad as well as their other friends and neighbors, Otter and Hedgehog, also got the same mysterious doorstep gift. "What do you think it means?" they all ask and they begin to theorize that who the giver is and that perhaps one of them is in love. It is only until a someone arrives at the house do they find out who had given them the presents and why. Harmen Van Straaten's watercolor illustrations that have a combination of subtle color changes to the background and the characteristics of the four friends add touches of whimsy and charm to this all ready lovely story. Young readers will especially like Duck's hat. For Me? is a fun book about friendship that would appeal to all readers.

*Ask the children how they would say "Hi" to their new neighbors when they just move to a new home.
*What would they think if they received a single flower and a note on their doorstep?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Marked - House of Night Series

Cast, P.C. and Kristin Cast. 2007. Marked. NY: St. Martin’s Griffin. ISBN: 9780312360269.

Changes in life can be hard, especially if you are unexpectedly “marked” as a fledgling vampyre and have to change schools. Leaving her friends, boyfriend and not-so-nice family behind, Zoey begins her new life as a fledgling at the House of Night to learn to become an adult vampyre. Of course, that is if she makes it through the change, which not all do. On top of a new school and making new friends, Zoey discovers that she has been chosen to have a special connection with the vampyre Goddess Nyx and rapidly develops new powers that fledglings normally don’t have. Life at the House of Nights gets mysterious when she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters is misusing her powers and she must set things right. As a mother and daughter team, P.C. and Krisitn Cast’s writing has the exciting and humorous touch of how teenagers would speak and think. Along with the usual dramas of teenage life Marked is also includes with mysteries and great action. The unique touches to the vampires themselves, especially the tattoos they develop as an adult vamp (or in Zoey’s case when the Goddess Nyx is pleased with her actions), their history, and bloodlusts that develops when feeding on others, adds to the new views of vampires in literature. Set in their hometown of Tulsa, OK, the authors also include well-rounded characters who are friends, or enemies, of Zoey and allow references to pop culture to make them more real to the readers. Being the first book of the currently five-book House of Night series about Zoey’s life and continuously unique drama that is full of twists and turns, Marked is growing in popularity and competition among the ranks of vampire literature and is an extremely welcomed addition to the subgenre and will draw the readers in.

*Continue to follow Zoey’s story with the other books in the House of Night series: Betrayed, Chosen, Untamed, Hunted and Tempted (coming October 2009).
*Have a House of Night event and let the participants create their own tattoos.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Grumpy Cat

Techentrup, Britta. 2008. Grumpy Cat. NY: Boxer Books. ISBN: 9781905417698.

*A 2009 Texas 2x2 Book*

Cat is grumpy. He sits between his trash cans alone, he eats alone, and he sleeps alone. However, Cat is also a lonely cat as he doesn't know how to join the other cats to play. Then when night, during a thunderstorm that leaves him wet and cold, a Kitten appears. Despite still being grumpy and trying to lose her, all of the brown and black stripped Cat is constantly followed by his new and unwanted friend Kitten. The orange and brown stripped kitten tries to play with him, wiggles her tail under his nose, pulls his tail and shows him her soft tummy. However, Cat is still grumpy until Kitten nearly falls out of a tree. This is a short and simple story of how a friendship is formed that young readers will like. The illustratrions are a combination of bold and soft and are graphically tectured what brings to mind that of other artists like Eric Carle, though less bold and colorful and more realistic. The young readers will like the grumpy look of Cat and the playfullness of Kitten. With the combination of the oversize bookform, lovely illustrations, and the clean text, young readers are sure to enjoy.

*Ask the readers if they were ever grumpy until one of their friends came to visit or when a new friend came a long.

Dinosuar Starts School

Edwards, Pamela Duncan. 2008. Dinosaur Starts School. Illus. by Deborah Allwright. Morton Grove, Ill: Albert Whitman & Company. ISBN: 9780807516003.

It's the first day of school and Dinosaur, a bright orangey-red Stegosaurus, is full of worry and doesn't want to go. However, his little human companion offers him reassurance. The story is cleverly written through a series of "What if..." questions like "What if you were painting pictures of the sun but Dinosaur made a big mess? What if his bight dinosaur eyes filled with tears and he began to cry?" and "What if it was time for lunch but Dinosaur said in his worried dinosaur voice, 'They might give us something yucky to eat.'" All the while, his friend offers answers to all the questions and makes Dinosaur at ease until they meet new friends another boy with a Triceratops who also are struggling with the first day of school. The illustrations are colorful and charming. All the children wear an array fun, retro style clothes and are an mixture of skin tones and hair styles (the young friend of dinosaur has a cool up-swoop hairdo). The pages are filled with color and action that will equally entertain the readers. This is an endearing story of the first-day-of-school jitters that many children will relate to, especially to those who love dinosaurs or have an imaginary animal friend. This is a must for all public and school libraries and is perfect for a storytime.

*Ask the children if they had a dinosaur who started school, what would you tell them if they were scared? What type of dinosaur would it be?
*Do a dinosaur craft.
*Other stories about going to school like Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes and How do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen and illus. by Mark Teague.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Katie Loves the Kittens

Himmelman, John. 2008. Katie Loves the Kittens. NY: Henry Holt & company. ISBN: 9780805086829.

When here human, Sara Ann, brings three kittens home, Katie the dog is so excited. Every time she sees them her tail begins to wag uncontrollably and wants to play and howl. However, all of her exuberant attempts to play or even to control herself from eating their food only leave Katie sad for only scaring the kittens and being reprimanded for doing so. Only when she learns to control her excitement does everyone is happy and she begins to make friends with the new additions to the family. Himmelman's story will capture the reader's love and sympathy for the adorable Katie (and the three kittens) all the while the ink and watercolor illustrations add the appeal of the whole book, especially when seeing she become so excited that her wagging tail is a blur and she her body quivers. Katie Loves the Kittens is humorous and charming about excitement, confusion, sadness, self-control and making friends that everyone will love to read and share with others, whether they like cats, dogs, or both! A must for all libraries.

*Ask the children if they were ever extremely excited about something or someone that they love.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chasing Vermeer

Balliett, Blue. 2004. Chasing Vermeer. Illus. by Brett Helquist. NY: Scholastics Press. ISBN:9780439372947.

When a mysterious person claims that some of the paintings attributed to the famed Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer are in fact not his and ultimately steals the painting A Lady Writing while it is transit from one museum to another, two sixth-graders, Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee are on the case. Mystery and intrigue is around every corner as Calder and Petra become friends and begin to find a connection between their free-spirited schoolteacher, a used bookstore owner, an old woman, Calder’s friend Tommy, and even their own parents. Putting together the history and art of a famed 17th century painter, a book about unusual phenomena, use of pentominos, and codes, Balliett’s first novel successfully captures the excitement of a crime solving with a smart and detectives that remind readers of K.L. Konigsburg’s classic From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Helquist’s detailed black and white illustrations are sprinkled throughout the book, which have their own puzzle for readers to solve, and adds to the overall thrilling book.

Read Balliett's other mystery art books: The Wright Three and The Calder Game.

The Tiger Rising

DiCamillo, Kate. 2001. The Tiger Rising. Mass: Candlewick Press. ISBN: 0763609110.

*2001 National Book Award Finalist*

Life isn’t so great for Rob. When his mother dies, he and his father move to Florida and are staying at the Kentucky Star motel. Plagued by an unusual rash on his legs and the victim of the school bullies, Rob keeps all his emotions deep down inside his “suitcase.” However, one day, hidden in the woods behind the motel, he discovers a real and very large golden tiger locked in a cage. That same day he meets the new girl, Sistine, in his sixth-grade homeroom class. Unlike himself, Sistine has no trouble showing her feelings and her discontent of living in Lister and how she is waiting for her father to take her away. When Rob finally decides to share his secret to Sistine, the ice the two of them breaks and they create a friendship that revolves around the tiger and how to free it. In this brief novel, DiCamillo has captures the strong and real emotions of pain and grief of a boy coping with his with the death of mother and the anger of a girl caught between her parents divorce. Secondary characters like Willie May, a worker at the motel and a wise woman that Rob asks for advice, are not flat and have a life of their own, and the overall narrative and language is very real and descriptive and will draw the readers in to this wonderful Newbery Honor book.

If You Give a Pig a Pancake

Numeroff, Laura. 1998. If You Give a Pig a Pancake. Illus. by Felicia Bond. NY: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN: 0060266864.

Following the now classic If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Numeroff continues her successful “If You Give…” series with If You Give a Pig a Pancake where an adorable piglet arrives at the home of a young girl at breakfast, whoc give the pig a pancake with some very sticky syrup. Of course, after eating she will need a bath with the bubbles and a rubber duck, which reminds her of the farm and her family. What follows is the comical progression of activities, such as tap dancing, picture taking, building and decorating a tree house, that will end where the story began with a pancake with syrup. Bond’s delightful illustrations wonderfully capture the fun and playful mood of the book, and will keep the readers equally visually entertained as with the text that will build humorous anticipations for all who read. Sure to be as popular as Numeroff’s previous books.

*Read the rest of the “If You Give…” series by Laura Numeroff: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Give a Pig a Party, and If You Give a Cat a Cupcake
*Read more of Numeroff’s books like: If You Take a Mouse to the Movies and If You Take a Mouse to School.
*Ask the children would type of food would they give to other animals.
*While reading, ask the children if they know what will happen next.

Not a Box

Portis, Antoinette. 2006. Not a Box. NY: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN: 0061123234.

When is a box ever just a box? To the little rabbit in Portis’ imaginative picture book, a box is never a box. When an unseen narrator asks questions like “Why are you sitting in a box?” or “Why are you standing on a box?” the rabbit repeatedly replies with “It’s not a box.” Beyond the simple text, the illustrations are the element that creates the book. The bold black lines of Rabbit and his Not-a-Box on a white and tan background is used when Rabbit comes up with a new playful idea, and when the readers turn the back, the backgrounds changes to a pale yellow and red, and in bold red lines, which are superimposed over the previous illustration, will show what the not-a-box has turned into, such as mountain peak or a race car. The playful imagination seen in this fun little book, which itself is covered in brown paper and looks like a box, is reminiscent of Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon and equally fuels the creativity in every young children to think outside of the box.

*Read Portis’ other imaginative book Not a Stick and Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon.
*Have a fun craft time and have the children take a small box (e.g. an animal cracker box) and create whatever they think a box is.

Capes for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business

Slobodkina, Esphyr. 1985 (org. 1947). Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business. NY: Harper&Row. ISBN: 9780201091472.

One day when he was unable to sell any of his gray, brown, blue, red caps, a peddler takes a walk into the country. After carefully resting himself against a tree-trunk and making sure that all of his caps were still neatly stacked upon his head he decides to take a nap. When he wakes, however, he discovers his caps are missing, and finds them on the heads of some mischievous monkeys sitting in the tree, and a game of monkey see, monkey do ensues until the peddler gets his caps back. With the unique color combination of black, turquoise, blue, red, and ochre, the stylized illustrations add to Slobodkina’s classic tale, which together presents a wonderful essence of a folktale, and still continues to engage to children (and their parents) of all ages. A great book to share aloud whether at home or at storytime.

*When reading aloud have the children help you recite parts of the story.
*Cut out circles out of gray, brown, blue, and red felt, and as you read place the “caps” upon your heads. Children can also do this for themselves.

The Old Willis Place: A Ghost Story

Hahn, Mary Downing. 2004. The Old Willis Place. NY: Clarion Books. ISBN: 0618430180.

For years twelve-year-old Diana and her ten-year-old brother Georgie knew the rules. They weren’t supposed to go past the gate of the Old Willis Place, not to go into the Willis house, and they were not to make friends with anyone. But when the new caretaker, Mr. Morrison, and his daughter Lissa arrive, Diana wanted to break the rule and be friends. After living wild on the grounds for so long and seeing old caretakers come and go, seeing someone their own age who had a bicycle, many books, and a teddy bear was exciting to Diana and Georgie and brought them back memories of years before. Much to her brother’s disapproval, Diana finally meets Lissa and they form an interesting and mysterious friendship that revolves around the creepy and supposedly haunted Old Willis house. Through the narration of both Diana and Lissa (via her diary entries), readers, along with Lissa, will be piece together the illusive story of Diana and Georgie and what happened in the Willis house with its owner Ms. Lillian Willis. Once again Hahn has written a compelling story of haunting, friendship, and forgiveness that will keep its for ghost stories.

CONNECTIONS *Read more of Mary Downing Hahn’s ghost stories: Wait Till Helen Comes, The Doll in the Garden, Time for Andrew, Deep and Dark and Dangerous, All the Lovely Bad Ones.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

People of Sparks

Duprau, Jeanne. 2004. People of Sparks. NY: Random House Inc. ISBN: 9780375828249.


Picking up where City of Ember left off, readers follow the Lina and Doon as they and the others from Ember begin their new lives in Sparks, a small town on the surface. They are taught how to build fences and building as well as grow their own food so that the Emberites can go off on their own and establish their own town. As they work, Lina and Doon learn about the world outside of Ember and what had causes for The Builders to build their underground city. However, life quickly becomes more difficult than ever when everyone grows more and more intolerant of the ignorance and selfishness in others and blame is pointed for mishaps that occur. Duprau successfully continues the story of the Emberites journey of learning the truth and hardship about the world beyond their underground home. though the setting itself is a little vague in descriptions in some parts, the characters capture most of the readers attention. Some are simple as in the previous book while others are slightly more complex. People of Sparks is fun, at times thought provoking, and quick read for this interested in the and with only some questions answered while others remain hidden, readers will me looking for the next book in the series.

*During book discussions, ask the readers about the differences between Sparks and Ember. How would they have felt if they arrived in a new place and/or received 400 people from an underground place.
*Ask the causes leading to the Disaster.

City of Ember

Duprau, Jeanne. 2003. City of Ember. NY: Random House Inc. ISBN: 9780375822735.


It's the year 241 and the city of Ember is dying. The generator that produces the electricity is breaking down with great frequency, which leaves the city in complete darkness for any amount of time, and food and necessities are running out. As they begin their new jobs, twelve-year-old classmates Lina Mayfeet, Messenger, and Doon Harrow, a pipeworker, quickly learn about more history and truth about their beloved city. When Lina discovers a old torn and chewed-up document from the time of "The Builders" that may be instructions on how to leave Ember, she and Doon are under the watchful eye of the corrupt mayor and his friends. With the city near ruins, the two make the decision to try the escape route that may or may not lead them to the world outside of Ember. In her debute novel, Duprau has created a fun novel that is a combination of adventure and mystery wrapped up a post-apocalyptic setting. The characters are simple yet well-rounded and the readers will relate their thoughts and feelings. An excellent quick read for all to enjoy.

*Have a compare-contrast reading discussion with similar books like The Giver by Lois Lowry.
*Have a movie book and movie night where, after reading the book, have a discussion on how well the movie reflects the book.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Deep and Dark and Dangerous: A Ghost Story

Hahn, Mary Downing. 2007. Deep and Dark and Dangerous: A Ghost Story. NY: Clarion Books. ISBN: 9780618665457.

When Ali is invited to stay the summer with her Aunt Dulcie and her four-year-old cousin Emma at Gull Cottage she jumps at the chance, despite the fact that her overprotective and depressed mother dislikes the idea. Staying at the lake house where her mother and aunt vacationed at as kids, thirteen-year-old Ali unearths a thirty-year-old mysterious drowning of a girl named Teresa that begins with a torn photographs. While her aunt spends time in a studio painting, Ali and Emma meet Sissy, a prickly and annoying local girl who hints at a dark secret and who becomes a bad influence on Emma. As she continues to visit the girls and talk about Teresa, Sissy makes the summer dark, difficult and dangerous. Hahn is in fine form as she explores the story of a girl's apparent death (other words) from decades past that comes back to literally haunt the children of those closes to the truth. The characters are real and believable, though Emma seems to be more mature than her age. The mystery in the story grabs the readers and draws them in. A great read for a summer night or any time.

*Read more of Mary Downing Hahn's ghost stories: Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story, The Doll in the Garden: A Ghost Story, Promises to the Dead, The Old Willis Place: A Ghost Story, and All the Lovely Bad Ones: A Ghost Story.
*Invite discussions by asking questions like: Did anyone begin to suspect that Sissy was someone else pivotal to the mystery at Gull Cottage? How and why? Why do you think that Claire and Dulcie kept the mystery a secret?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The End of the Final Semester!

The final semester of my studies in Library Science has ended. It was wonderfully successfully and exciting. I hope that you have enjoyed reading my book reviews and poetry breaks for the last few months.

Now that I am a Children's Librarian this blog will be morphing only in the sense that the reviews, poetry breaks, and anything else that I will post will not be for a course but for my personal enjoyment as well as yours.

Please come and visit The Wielded Pen - Children's Corner in the future and discover about the great books that I have come across!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Course Bibliography

This is a bibliography of all the books that I used when creating my poetry breaks and book reviews for the Library Science course LS 5665.20 – Poetry for Children and Young Adults. Enjoy exploring these great books!

Bagert, Brod. 2007. Shout!: Little Poems that Roar. Illus. by Sachiko Yoshikawa. NY: Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9780803729728

Fletcher, Ralph. 2006. Moving Day. Illus. by Jennifer Emery. Honesdale, Penn: Wordsong. ISBN: 9781590783399.

Florian, Douglas. 2006. Handsprings. NY: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN: 978006009280.

Franco, Betsy. 2003. Mathematickles!. Illus. by Steven Salerno. NY: Margaret K. McElderry Books. ISBN: 0689843577.

Glenn, Mel. 1996. Who Killed Mr. Chippendale?: A Mystery in Poems. NY: Lodestar Books. ISBN: 0525675302.

Grimes, Nikki. 2006. Thanks A Million. Illus. by Gozbi A. Cabrera. ISBN: 9780688172930.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2007. Behind the Museum Door: Poems to Celebrate the Wonders of Museums. Illus. by Stacey Dressen-McQueen. NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. ISBN: 9780810912045

–––––––. 1990. Good Books, Good Times!. Illus. by Harvey Stevenson. ISBN: 0060225270.

Hull, Robert. 1991. Spring Poems. Illus. by Annabel Spenceley. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn Library. ISBN: 0811478025.

Janeczko, Paul B. 2005. A Kick in the Head. Illus. by Chris Raschka. Cambridge, Mass: Candlewick Press. ISBNL: 0763606626.

–––––––. 1998. That Sweet Diamond: Baseball Poems. Illus. by Carole Katchen. NY: Antheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 068980735X.

Katz, Bobbi. 2004. Pocket Poems. Illus. by Marylin Hafner. NY: Dutton Children’s Books. ISBN: 0525471723.

MacLachlan, Patricia and Emily MacLachlan Charest. 2006. Once I Ate a Pie. Illus. by Katy Schneider. NY: Joanna Cotler Books (HarperCollinsPublishers). ISBN: 9780060735319.

Moore, Lilian. 2006. Beware, Take Care. Illus. by Howard Fine. NY: Henry Holt and Company, Inc. ISBN: 0805069178.

Mora, Pat. 2001. Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers. Illus. by Paula S. Barragán M. NY: Lee & Low Books Inc. ISBN: 1584300191.

Nye, Naomi Shihab. 2000. Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poems. Illus. by Ahsley Bryan. NY: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollinsPublishers). ISBN: 0688161936.

Paul, Ann Whitford. 1999. All by Herself: 14 Girls Who Made A Difference. Illus. by Michael Steirnagle. NY: Harcourt, Inc. ISBN: 0152014772.

Weisburd, Stefi. 2008. Barefoot: Poems for Naked Feet. Illus. by Lori McElrath-Eslick. Honesdale, Penn: Wordsong. ISBN: 9781590783061.

Responding to Poetry: Ode to Michelangelo's Bones - A Poetry Break

Art goes hand-in-hand with poetry. Poetry can beautiful describe a specific work of art, view art in a new way, and to learn a new way to meet an artists. This poem, written by a child of an unknown age, simply describes what a famous sculptor did. Prepare for this poem by finding other poetry books about art like Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art compiled by Jan Greenberg, Celebrating America: A Collection of Poems and Images of the American Spirit compiled by Laura Whipple, and Words with Wings: A Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art compiled by Belinda Rochelle, and artists and books with great colored photographs of works of art.

Ode to Michelangelo’s Bones
By Joe DeLeon

Many years ago
Released men
From rocks.

In connection with this poem, share with the children of who Michelangelo is and show photographs of his work. Also, have the children find an artist that they like and, after learning about them, have them write a bio-poem about the artist. Have the children find a specific work of art that they like have them write a poem about that artwork.

This poem is from:

Nye, Naomi Shihab. 2000. Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poems. Illus. by Ahsley Bryan. NY: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollinsPublishers). ISBN: 0688161936.

Responding to Poetry: That Sweet Diamond

Janeczko, Paul B. 1998. That Sweet Diamond: Baseball Poems. Illus. by Carole Katchen. NY: Antheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9780689807350.


The sights, sounds, taste, emotions and the fun of the baseball are celebrated in this great collection of poems.

In Janeczko’s collection of original poems the game of baseball, the life of the stadium, and the fans and players captures the essence of America’s favorite pastime. Capturing all areas of a baseball game, the poems are organized where the readers to be immersed in the sights, smells and sounds of “Before the Game”:

Boys, wearing caps of faraway teams,
Laugh, shove

Peanut shells crunch

Cheese oozes
over nachos

thick as the perfume
of popcorn and
boiled hot dogs
fills the air

As ticket takers call,
This way
This way to the game

The fans in the stands are also described. In poem “Section 7, Row 1, Seat 3” there is an old woman who was born when Yankee Stadium opened and other special connections with baseball who comes to games and says that “’Leaving before the last out/she says, resting her chin on her/ebony cane,/‘is like/before your time.’” There are also the group of nuns in the stands who “all but two fell/victim to The Wave” and who’s

in their team
paid off
in the ninth
when the catcher with a saintly
sent a pitch
to the gravel parking lot
behind the fence,
close enough to heaven
to win the game.

Other poems from the stands range from the “Things to do during a rain delay” that is written from the point of view of a young fan who builds castles with used paper cups and holding the umbrella in the right spot that the rain drops on the neck of the man sitting in front of you to the vendors who sell peanuts, sodas in waxy cups, and ice cream.

Among the poems about the fans and the happenings within the stadium, there are vignette-like poems about the players and officials like the poem “Catcher sings the blues” describes the catcher’s blues of achy knees, fingers, and crouching low. This poem has repeated couplets in each of the four stanzas that is great for children to repeat or even sing as a way to participate in reading the poem. Finally, the sport itself is highlighted when poems about specific plays in the game that ranges from a foul ball, a double play, and a play at home plate and also a poem about the secret signs that the players use to communicate and the nicknames that the players have.

The majority of the poems are written in free verse while others, such as the poem “A curse upon the Pitcher” is written in rhyme to create a specific rhythm and feel of the magic spell being cast:

Peanut shells, pigeon feather,
Dance a jig in stormy weather.
Ice cream stick, bubble gum,
Hurler, may you lose your hum.

The poems are given a two-page spread. One page is for the poem that is surrounded by a page border and the other for Katchen’s illustrations. The illustrations are loosely drawn with colored chalk crayons show the poems subjects in an artistic way that beautifully matches and never distracts from the poetry. Reader will in enjoy looking at accompanying artwork and study their soft details as much as reading the poems.

With the combination of great original poems and the accompany illustrations That Sweet Diamond: Baseball Poems is a great collection of poems that can be shared at the beginning of the baseball season and all summer long.

*For more poems about baseball read and share books like At the Crack of the Bat by Lillian Morrison and Diamond Life: Baseball Sights, Sounds, and Swings by Charles R. Smith Jr.
*Invite the children to share their baseball experience and what they like about the sport.
*Have the children write their own poems about baseball.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Responding to Poetry: Tumbleweed - A Poetry Break

Moving away to a new home, city, or even a new state can be a very difficult time for children. They are leaving their home, neighborhood, school, and friends and going some place new and unfamiliar. This poem comes a book of poems, Moving Day, that revolves around a boy who is leaving his home in Massachusetts to live in Ohio and who is going through all the emotional stages of one who is leaving the home that he knows. Share this poem along with the entire book or some of it singular poems like “Unmovable,” “Leaves,” “Lasts,” and the ending poem “Leaves.”

By Ralph Fletcher

You see them in old Westerns,
blowing across a dusty road.

Their roots aren’t planted in soil
but curled up so they can roll along
wherever the wind might take them.

If we move away from here,
I won’t be from Marshfield
or from Massachusetts, either.

I won’t be from anywhere–
…………just a tumbleweed
……………….blowing across a dusty road.

Invite the children to share any of their experiences of moving from one home to another or of someone they know who moved away. Ask them how they would feel if they were leaving to live in a new place and how they would learn to like their new home. Connecting with the tumbleweed in the poem, ask if there is another way to describe the feeling of not belonging to any particular place.

This poem is from:

Fletcher, Ralph. 2006. Moving Day. Illus. by Jennifer Emery. Honesdale, Penn: Wordsong. ISBN: 9781590783399.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Poetry Performance: Vacant Houses - A Poetry Break

This poem lets the imagination flow as shoes are seen as house for toes. Prepare for sharing this poem by bring in a few pairs of shoes that you own or found at a flea market or have the children bring a shoe (anyone’s shoes) from home. Also, bring other books to share like Nikki Grimes’ Shoe Magic.


Vacant Houses
By Stefi Weisburd

High hells
.........cliff-side beauty on stilts
.........toes might be cramped in the tiny basement

.........great lakefront property
.........a drummer lives downstairs be prepared for swacking sounds

Sister’s pumps
.........pretty décor, new glossy finish
.........might not want to risk the high rental charges

Soccer cleats
.........very cozy
.........hit, humid, and stuffy three times a week a bit rickety

.........good view of the stairs
.........not for the shy – no window shades
.........residents may get a tan lines

.........sturdy brown brownstone
.........but lack of skylights make it dark and gloomy

Dog-stolen old sneaker
.........extensive saliva damage

.........soft, luxurious carpeting
.........flimsy doors, not recommended for
.........cartwheelers or trampoline jumpers

Dad's shoes
.........lots of room to roam fact, too much square footage
.........but the floors are worm smooth as marble
.........feels like home

Invite children to bring a shoe from home (dad’s shoes, mom’s or a brother or sisters’) or simply use their show, and have them come up with a description of what type of house they would be for the toes that would live in them. Have them create their own little poem for the description and include a nice picture of the shoe.

This poem is from:

Weisburd, Stefi. 2008. Barefoot: Poems for Naked Feet. Illus. by Lori McElrath-Eslick. Honesdale, Penn: Wordsong. ISBN: 9781590783061.

Poetry Performance: Once I Ate A Pie

MacLachlan, Patricia and Emily MacLachlan Charest. 2006. Once I Ate a Pie. Illus. by Katy Schneider. NY: Joanna Cotler Books (HarperCollinsPublishers). ISBN: 9780060735319.

From their point of views, thirteen poems highlight the fun, loving and mischievous life of dogs.

In this charming series of thirteen poems, authors Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLaclan Charest has written thirteen free-verse poems that truly capture the humorous personalities of dogs. Abby “borrows” not steals. Lucy was adopted from a shelter and now calls the couch, chairs, bed, and pillow hers. A pug named Mr. Beefy likes to eat butter and admits that he once ate a pie. The German Shepard, Gus, likes to herd his people. The age of the dogs range from puppies like the poem “Puppy” at the beginning of the book:

The world is big
Trees too tall.
Sky too HIGH.
Snow over my head.
What if I get lost?

“You will chase snowflakes in winter,” the people tell me.
“Run through the grasses in spring
and howl at the full moon."

Not now. I am a puppy.
For now I will stay here
by your side

To dogs in the prime of their life and finally the books ends with the poem Luke, the old St. Bernard who likes to sleep and dream of when he was young, but he will bark when he wants and will howl at the moon at night.

Through the effectiveness of the how the poems portray the personalities and behaviors of the dogs, the readers truly get the feeling of the what the dog is like. A wonderful example is Mr. Beefy’s poem:

I am not thin, but I am beautiful.
When no one is looking, I steal tubs of butter off the table.

I take them to the basement to eat in private.
Once I ate a PIE.

The reader cannot help but read this poem with a deep voice and with a passion, especially at the end with the admittance of once eating a pie.

Each poem is presented in a double-page spread with most illustrations in flowing onto both and with the poem itself in the white space. The poems are structured in a fun and appealing way. The emphasize a specific word to further illustrate the personality of the dog the text is larger or tinier than the normal size font and are sometimes in bold print. Words and lines also break free of the regular straight right to left some are written in waves or scattered about, which also shows the personality of the dog, for example, the poem for the dog Needle Nose who likes to get into everything the words of the poem begin to scatter as it describes what he likes to get into, “the refrigerator/the dishwasher/quilts/pillows/dog-cookies boxes/cat-snack bags/toys–I like the squeaker.”

All the poems are great to share with one reader. However, there are also poems that children can help in reading. For example, the poem “Louis” about a little Pomeranian who use to yip but now barks, there is a refrain of “I BARK” that the children can repeat while one reads. There is also the poem for the dogs Tillie and Maude, who are two dogs that look alike but have different personalities and behaviors. The poem is presented in a double page spread, Tillie’s part of the poem is on one page and Maude’s part of the poem is on the second page. This poem is a wonderful opportunity to have two readers read the poem.

Schneider’s oil paint illustrations are wonderfully artistic and complement the free-verse poems. The breeds of the dogs are lovingly and accurately presented. The personalities that are seen in the poems are also emulated in the faces and body language of the dogs in the illustrations. For example, the puppy Wupsie says her name is Wupsie but people call her “cute” be cause she covers her eyes with her pays and pretends to sleep. The illustration for the puppy shows her on her back, paws curled and her tongue playfully handing out of her mouth. Another example is Sugar, who sleeps all the time, unless she chases the cat, the illustration shows her in three different sleeping positions.

Once I Ate a Pie is a wonderful and loving book about man’s, woman’s, and child’s best friend that is perfect for any school, public, and personal library. Share this poem all year long and especially during the American Humane Association’s Adopt-a-Dog Month of October.

*Bring pictures or books of different types of dogs or have children who have dogs at home bring a picture and have the children pick a breed and allow them to write a poem about them. Let the imagine run and let them create a personality for the dog and have them write a poem about them, as in the books.
*Have fun reading the poems aloud. Have two children read the poem “Tillie and Maude” (one child per dog) and have the children help you say the refrain “I BARK” in the poem “Louis.”
*Read more poetry books about dogs like: Dogku by Andrew Clements and illus. by Rim Bowers, Dog Poems by Dave Crawley and illus. by Tamara Petrosino, and Good Dog by Maya Gottfried and illus. by Robert Rahway Zakanitch.
*Have the children find out what the breeds are of the dogs that are seen in the books.

Poetry Performance: The Library Cheer - A Poetry Break

This poem comes a great book of poems that are meant to be shared out loud. Use this poem for every occasion from celebrating National Poetry Month to National Library Week or simply when you decide to celebrate books and poetry! Have the children repeat the refrain “Books are good!/Books are great!/I want books!/I WILL NOT WAIT!”.

The Library Cheer
By Brod Bagert

Books are good!
Books are great!
I want books!
....Bird books,
....Bug books,
....Bears books too,
....Words and pictures
....Through and through.

Books are good!
Books are great!
I want books!
....Books in color,
....Black and white,
....Shinny books,
....Fat books,
....Day and night.

Books are good!
Books are great!
I want books!
....Sad books,
....Glad books,
....Funny books too,
....Books for me
....And books for you.

Books are good!
Books are great!
I want books!

Invite the children to use the refrain to start their own poem about the different types of books that they like read and discover at the library.

This poem is from:

Bagert, Brod. 2007. Shout!: Little Poems that Roar. Illus. by Sachiko Yoshikawa. NY: Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9780803729728.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Poetry Across The Curriculum: Kate Shelley - A Poetry Break

This biographical poem tells the story of a young girl’s bravery to go out in a storm to save the men from a train crash during the late 19th century. Perfect for social studies lessons, pair this poem with picture books like Kate Shelley: Bound for Legend written by Robert D. San Souci and illus. by Max Ginsburg and Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express written by Margaret K. Wetterer and illus. by Karen Ritz.


Kate Shelley
By Ann Whitford Paul

Lightning ripped apart the sky. Thunder pounded loud,
hammering relentlessly. Rain pelted from the clouds.
Kate Shelley trembled – mother, too – at the raging storm.
They moved in closer to their hearth,
Dry and safe and warm.
Then on the tracks nearby their home,
Men rode a service rain to check the rails
for damage caused by so much pouring rain.
Kate heard its bell toll once, twice, and then a roar of sound,
as if the thunder rumbled in the belly of the ground.
Kate heard its bell toll once, twice, and then a roar of sound,
Kate grabbed her lantern.
Mother begged her, “Stay!” but Kate dashed out.
The bridge was smashed! The train had crashed!
Two men clung desperately to trees.
Kate started into town for help.
The path was overgrown – she tripped and tumbled down.
Kate stood again and ran
until she reached Des Moines’ wide river.
The water lapped the railroad bridge.
Her lantern’s small flame quivered. Then it died!
Kate strained to see the ties place far apart,
stooped down to her knees, and groped on through the dark.
Jabbed by splinters, ripped by nails,
she crawled along the planks – across a span, five hundred feet.
At least she reached the bank.
Cold and wet seeped to her bones,
yet still she ran – raced fast! – to town.
The people there were horrified.
They grasped and hurried with her to the train.
Though nearly drained of hope,
the men were pulled to safety with a long and looping rope.
Kate Shelley didn’t wait for thanks,
But trudge on through the storm,
back to Mother, back to home,
dry and safe and warm

Invite the children to share what they would have done if they saw that the bridge was out and the trained had crashed. After sharing the poem and other picture books, ask the children to compare the different versions of Kate Shelley’s story. Which one did they like best? Also continue the sharing of stories of heroic people in history, including girls found in All by Herself by Ann Whitford Paul.

This poem is from:

Paul, Ann Whitford. 1999. All by Herself: 14 Girls Who Made A Difference. Illus. by Michael Steirnagle. NY: Harcourt, Inc. ISBN: 0152014772.

Poetry Across The Curriculum: Mathematickles!

Franco, Betsy. 2003. Mathematickles!. Illus. by Steven Salerno. NY: Margaret K. McElderry Books. ISBN: 0689843577.

Through a combination of seasons and math, poetic math problems will tease the brains of readers young and old.

In this fun yet educational collection, Franco’s simple, free verse poems are creatively presented in various math problems that range from the easy addition, subtraction, multiplication, division to graphs. Following a young girl and her cat, readers are taken through the concepts of math, language arts, and the four seasons.

The poems are short, no more than eight words in all,. Through the use of the mathematical format the essence of the poem is easily understood and appreciated. Through the combination of formats, poetry and math, the readers are engaged in multiple subjects at ones. Some of the poems are easier to understand the answer while other ones can be thought provoking as they present a new way of thinking of a season, like:

– harvest
earth’s naptime

as well as ways you think of other things like exploring during the season like:

ice puddle + snow boot = creakgroanCRACK!

Even through the simplicity of the poems and the aspect of mathematics, there is still the wonderful element of imagery still is part of the overall book. For beautiful poem is:

x leaves
pearls on green plates


maple leaves + puddle = crimson ships

Through such imagery the readers are seeing how math and language can be combined to create something fun as well as beautiful.

Salerno’s colorful gauche illustrations range from single page with one or more poems to two page spreads with several season related poems throughout. The illustrations are artistically and whimsically painted as they present the four different seasons, the animals, the nature, and even the girl and her cat. One of the best aspects of the illustrations as it provides a visualization of the answers to the poems such as when the poem

coldair -:- breath = tiny cloud

the illustrations show the girl walking through a wintry scene and we can see her breath. Or, as another example there is

squirrels + ___________ = winter storage

(answer: acorns) [the answer is presented upside down]

and the illustrations show tall trees with holes where the squirrels have hidden all of their acorns. Providing a visual of the poems’ subjects creates a way for readers who are still gaining understanding of the math concepts but can begin to figure out the answers by looking at the illustrations.

The mathematical poems, as well as the colorful illustrations, are a fun and creative way to gain understanding of both math and the seasons. Readers of all ages will have fun reading and figuring out the poems. Pair with seasonal, science, or math poetry and picture books as well as with textbooks, Mathematickles! is perfect for enhancing the education of students all the while having fun!

*Continue to enhance math with poetry books like Arithme-Tickle: An Even Number of Odd Riddle-Rhymes by J. Patrick Lewis and Illus. by Frank Remkiewiz.
*Expand and enhance science with poetry books like Spectacular Science: A Book of Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Illus. by Virginia Halstead.

Poetry Across The Curriculum: Bee! I'm Expecting You! – A Poetry Break

This poem written by the classic poet Emily Dickinson is wonderful to share when spring is beginning to bloom or when you’re introducing the concept of letters. Come with other poetry books about spring. To prepare for sharing and add to the fun, copy the poem on a page of stationary and put it in enveloped addressed “From: Fly, To: Bee.”


Bee! I’m Expecting You!
By Emily Dickinson

Bee! I’m expecting you!
Was saying Yesterday
To Somebody you know
That you were due –

The Frogs got Home last Week –
Are settled, and at work –
Birds, mostly back –
The Clover warm and thick –

You’ll get my Letter by
The seventeenth; Reply
Or better, be with me –
Yours, Fly.

Invite the children to share their ideas of who would be friends and who would be expecting to see each other when winter is over and spring is coming. Have then write their own letter according to their ideas, whether in verse or not. Have them also write a letter to one of their own friends (human or animal or a thing of nature) about what they’re going to do now that spring is here.

This poem is from:

Hull, Robert. 1991. Spring Poems. Illus. by Annabel Spenceley. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn Library. ISBN: 0811478025.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kinds of Poetry: Lunchbox - A Poetry Break

Time for a lunchtime poem! Share this poem when you’re breaking for lunch or when you’re learning about food. Pair this with other poetry books about food or mealtimes, such as Laura Purdie Salas’ new book Lettuce Introduce You: Poems About Food.

By Valerie Worth

They always
End up

The soft

The round

Invite the children to look into their lunch box and create a little story about the food they find inside of it. A limerick is a perfect poem form to use. Or have them create an acrostic poem by using the names of the food they have for lunch like APPLE, SANDWICH, MILK, JUICE and much more! Ask them if the food they have would like being in a lunchbox together or would they disagree with each other like the sandwich and the apple in the poem.

This poem is from:

Katz, Bobbi. 2004. Pocket Poems. Illus. by Marylin Hafner. NY: Dutton Children’s Books. ISBN: 0525471723.

Kinds of Poetry: Who Killed Mr. Chippendale - A Book Review

Glenn, Mel. 1996. Who Killed Mr. Chippendale?: A Mystery in Poems. NY: Lodestar Books. ISBN: 0525675302.

When the high school English teacher, Mr. Chippendale, is murder at the school’s track students and people whose lives he affected share their personal thoughts as the police and a guidance councilor figure out who is the murderer.

Presented in free-verse form, Mel Glenn’s mystery verse novel explores the aftermath of Mr. Chippendale’s murder. Instead emphasizing on the mystery, the intrigue, and the whodunit, Glenn focuses more on the emotional and personal impact that the unexpected and harsh death of the high school teacher caused.

English teacher Mr. Chippendale, or Mr. C. as some many students called him, was popular among many of the students. He played a pivotal in the life choices of many of his students lives such as Celia Campbell who praised her poetry and Cynthia Arroyo who wanted to be a writer and had Mr. C tell her that her job at the Hot Dog Heaven is an “opportunity:”

‘Study people’s faces, not french fries.
Hear how they order, not what,
And imagine a minibiography
For each of them.
Make a connection, no matter how brief,
What do you think they feel?
What do you feel about them?
Even if it’s about customers and condiments.
Learning about life is a painstaking task,
But it has to be done with
Relish’ (p. 28).

There are also thoughts from those who had taken his class terms before but were affected by his death, such as Karen Miller who witness Mr. Chippendale being shot in the head who describes her constantly memory of the death as a “never-ending video loop/projected in of [her] eyes” (p. 66). There is also Leah Talbot who had a crush on the teacher. There were students who failed his class that did not care that he had died, and there were those who did not care plain and simple.

There are more than thirteen voices in the novel that tells this story; however, Angela Falcone can be considered one of the most important characters. As Tower High School’s guidance counselor she serves as a person where the students could share their thoughts about the teacher. She also use to be Mr. Chippendale’s girlfriend, which attracts unnecessary initial suspicion from the police. It is also through her that the murderer is ultimately apprehended.

Though all the poems are the personal thoughts of the characters, Glenn mixes things up by presenting the thoughts as Eugene Braymore’s, the police captain, press memo, possible motives, personal memo and reminders, notes from the murderer, an interview between Angela Falcone and an the detective Harry Balinger in which questions are being asked and answered and their personal thoughts correspond:

“Any students complain....................I use to hate high
......about him?”
“they complain about ......................Whining 101
“Can you think of............................Worth a shot, why not?
.......Anyone specific?”
“The murderer just pops up.............He’s too cocky, a kid. my mind.”
“Nothing rings a bell,........................She’s hiding something.
“No.”.................... .......................Who am I, Quasimodo?

Another form that is seen is also a letter to Mr. Chippendale, which came after his death, from the Board of Education concerning the matter that he had not specify “which health-care option” he had chosen, and that he need to replay immediately so they can “best serve” him and that they wish him “good health and a long career” (p. 18). By including this letter, the impact of Mr. Chippendale’s death is deepened.

Since the novel focuses more on the thoughts and emotions of the characters rather than the mystery of who is the murdered, which is seen in traditional mystery novels, there are not many twists and turns that makes the reader truly get caught up in who the murder is. There are, however, subtle hints within the poems. The most significant element is a red sweatshirt that only appears as a voice twice and appears an article of clothing in two other poems. Another more apparent “hint” would be the presences of a few characters who did not like the teacher and who liked watching movies with “blood and stuff.” With these subtle elements it allows the readers to keep on wondering who really did kill Mr. Chippendale.

The novel ends with a simple Epilogue: Roll Call that explains what happened to the each character thirteen years after the murder, which includes the murderer. It then comes to a poignant close with a new teacher arrives at the school:

“In the early morning light,
Roberta Chartoff, a new English teacher,
Walks up the front steps of the school,
Eager to step onto the educational wonderwheel
Cautiously, she approaches the main office
And notices a little plaque to the left of the time clock.
It reads:

Robert Chippendale
Teacher, Scholar, Friend

‘Whose that?’ she wonders,
As she punches in a 7:04.”

By staying true to poetry as an literary art form in which emotion and imagery are expressed and by incorporating the free verse style with different presentations like notes, letters, memos, conversations, etc., but also including the needed hint of a mystery of who killed Mr. Chippendale, Glenn’s mystery is a unique addition to any library collection.

*Ask the students if they had an idea who the murderer might have been. Where there any hints or literary element that they picked up on?
*For another mystery in poem read Mel Glenn’s Foreign Exchange: A Mystery In Poem.

Kinds of Poetry: Paper Dreams - A Poetry Break

A persona poem is when a poem is written from the point-of-view of the its subject. In this particular poem, it is from the point of view of craft papers that are waiting for the scissors to make them into different things. Share this poem come prepared with colorful paper and a pair (or more) scissors. Cut out shapes that are either mentioned in a poem or that can be easily copied by the children. To me ambitious, you can memorize the poem and recite it as you are cutting shapes out of the paper.


Paper Dreams
by Bonni Katz

...Neatly stacked in separate piles
....................we wait
.......for the shape of a stencil –
...........the press of a pencil
.............of silver scissors.
...................We wait become
.............lacey snowflakes
...................fat santas
........pointy Christmas trees…
.............White, red, green– we are just paper.
....................we wait
.........quietly on a dark shelf,
.................of becoming…

Have fun with the persona poem. Invite the children to find an object (anything will work!) and have them write a poem from the its point-of-view. For those who cannot find anything have a box of found items for them to pick from. With this form of poetry the imagination can run wild as they begin to think like the object!

This poem is from:

Janeczko, Paul B. 2005. A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. Illus. by Chris Raschka. Cambridge, Mass: Candlewick Press. ISBN: 0763606626.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Major Poets and Awards: What I Love/Hate About Spring - A Poetry Break

These two poems are a must-read-together pair. Spring is the one season where everything begins to wake up and come to life again after a cold winter. Many great things come with spring; however, sometimes a great thing can also be a little problematic. Prepare for the poetry break with a collection of other poetry books that talks about the seasons, fun activities, and even the holidays that occur in the springtime. A fun example is Swing Around the Sun by Barbara Juster Esbensen. You can also write down your ideas of why you love or hate spring.

What I Love About Spring
By Douglas Florian

Trees are growing
Streams are flowing
Cool spring showers
Blooming flowers
Caterpillars creep
Peepers peep
Playing sports
Wearing shorts
April Fools’
Swimming pools
Going places
Relay races
Days are longer
Sun is stronger
Every morning songbirds sing–
I leave nearly everything!

What I Hate About Spring
By Douglas Florian

Insect swarms
Fixing screening
Pollen spores
Mud outdoors
Skinned knees
Hot and humid days in June–
I hate that spring goes by too soon.

Have the child share what they love and hate about Spring (or any season if you are sharing other poems as well). Why do they love or hate a particular thing about Spring? In addition, have them write down their love/hates in a list form (e.g. a list poem) or have them write a poem about the love/hates and have them illustrate.

These poems are from:

Florian, Douglas. 2006. Handsprings. NY: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN: 9780060092801.