Thursday, June 24, 2010
I am Saltopus.
I am nasty. I am mean.
My teeth are sharp as daggers.
My legs are short and lean.
I dine on luscious lizards.,
bugs are tasty snacks.
I am a mighty hunter—
I'm ready to attack.
I am Saltopus.
My brain is rather small.
I could be a Dino King—
But I'm just one foot
Thank you, Lee for including my poem. Thank you Barry Gott, your illustration is sure to spark lots of laughter!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I'm always on the lookout for literature that inspires a sense of community among my students. I found a collection of poetry I can't wait to share with them next August.
Amazing Faces is the latest anthology by master poet Lee Bennett Hopkins. The collection of sixteen vivid poems celebrate our diversity. Together the poems and illustrations bring to life "faces that reveal the universal feelings we all share. " Chris Soentpiet's detailed illustrations not only complement the poems, but they also honor the faces depicted on the page.
An impressive group of poets including: Joseph Bruchac, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Nikki Grimes, Pat Mora, Carole Boston Weatherford, Janet S. Wong, Jane Yolen, Mary Cronin, and others contributed works for Amazing Faces.
One of my poet heroes, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, introduces the theme with a poem near and dear to my heart. The accompanying illustration shows a mother holding up her baby. Her poem says exactly what every mother thinks when she looks into the face of her child, "Amazing!" Here is an excerpt from this beautifully crafted poem.
Amazing, your face,
It shows there will be trails to follow,
porches to wave from, wonder from,
Rebecca Kai Dotlich, all rights reserved
I recently asked friend and KitLit blogger, Mary Cronin, to share the inspiration for her lovely poem "Firefighter Face."
"I enjoy shining a light on the work of firefighters in my writing; my father was a New York City firefighter for over thirty years. While he never talked about “the job” at home, we knew he loved his work and took great pride in it. “Firefighter Face” was inspired by a picture in a photography book about New York firefighting. In the photo, a firefighter pauses, grimy and exhausted; yet there’s no mistaking the expression on his face, the look of satisfaction in a job well done. I wanted to capture that amazing expression in poetic form, and I dedicate the poem to firefighters and their loved ones."
Trickles of sweat etch silvery trails
down wind-bitten cheeks coated with ash.
Curtains of vapor, with each breath he exhales,
wreathe his tired smile, his drooping mustache.
Framed by smoke-smudged wrinkles,
soot-black eyebrows cannot hide
a flash of blue eyes that twinkle
with strength and triumphant pride.
Mary E. Cronin, all rights reserved
Amazing Faces has been awarded a starred review by Publishers Weekly. You can read an interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins and Chris Soentpiet here. As a teacher and writer, I love reading the inspiration behind a poem. You can read stories behind the poems in Amazing Faces here.
Amazing Faces makes my Best Books list for teachers and poetry lovers of all ages.
Sneak Peek: I had also planned to blog about another of Lee's anthologies due to be published next spring, but it's getting late and I can hardly stay awake so I'll hold off until next week and just give a sneak peek. Dizzy Dinosaurs is a collection of silly dinosaur poems. A fun fact is several KidLit bloggers including: Laura Salas, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Douglas Florian, and I have poems in this volume. Dizzy Dinosaurs is available for pre-order on Amazon. I'll share some excerpts soon, so stay tuned!
Two Writing Teachers is hosting today's Poetry Friday.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
I start by reading an excerpt from Robert Fulghums's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Then we brainstorm the experiences and activities they've participated in during the year that helped them learn some important life lessons. Their wisdom at such a young age always blows me away. I thought I'd share a few of their poems with you today.
What I Learned from Lacrosse
Patience is everything,
Rushing doesn’t work.
Pay attention to the rules.
Working as a team
is better than alone.
Be kind to others
even if they aren’t
practice makes perfect.
Never give up,
no matter how
hard your goal is!
What I Learned from Fishing
Violence is never rewarded,
so don’t hurt anyone or anything.
A little bit of friendly competition
can make life even more enjoyable.
The best in you comes out when
you’re having fun.
When the fish don’t bite,
there’s always tomorrow.
Untangle your own line.
When you lose a fish,
just put more bait on your hook
and try again.
Patience is always rewarded.
But most importantly,
the size of your catch doesn’t matter
as much as having fun does.
What I Learned from Soccer
Play the game you’re given
with everything you’ve got.
Sometimes the best decisions
are made on the spot.
You should never give up
until the final whistle blows.
Don’t forget about your teammates,
you don’t walk on the field alone.
Charge toward your goal,
and never quit trying.
Your’ gonna’ get fouled on,
so there’s no point in crying.
Listen to other people,
but follow your own heart.
Don’t over think it,
just play the game smart.
Sometime you will fail,
but never have shame.
Remember not to hate the players,
instead love the game!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
While the driver got out to gather broken pieces of bumper, grill, and headlights, I stayed in the car and watched the doe, still alive, still moving. She slowly raised her head and tried to stand, but she was too weak. I knew there was nothing I could do except pray that death would happen quickly and end her pain. I didn't want her to die alone so we sat silently in the car and waited until she was gone. It broke my heart to watch her eyes close and her head drift down onto the cold asphalt .
Yesterday, I came across "Traveling Through the Dark" by William Stafford. It brought back the sadness I felt that last fall. I love the way William Stafford can tell such a powerful story in just a few short lines of poetry.
Traveling Through The Dark
Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.
My fingers touching her side brought me the reason--
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated
You can read the rest of the poem here.