In classrooms across America, children celebrate their birthday. A common practice is for parents to provide cupcakes for this event.
Well - instead of a cupcake, why not encourage all parents to donate one book to a class or school library, something that will last.
Imagine - a school filled with (an example) 200 children - all having a birthday - and receiving 200 books per year. This is more than any school library budget could afford.
A note appended to each book could read: From the parents of _______.
A legacy passed from year to year to year....
It is with great sadness to hear of the death of Lois Duncan this week, a wondrous, warmhearted, witty woman.I don't know if anyone knows the tale she shared with me but it is quite story.
In 1989, Knopf published her SONGS FROM DREAMLAND a book of original lullabies, illustrated by Kay Chorao.When her daughter,Kerry, had her first baby, Erin, Lois' s first grandchild, her other daughter,Robin Arquette,a musician and songwriter, collaborated on a recording of the book as a 'welcome to the world' gift.They rented an 8-track recorder and recorded them in her living room. Random House brought out ...DREAMLAND as a book/cassette package which got rave reviews.
On the second run of ...DREAMLAND Random House packaged it with the wrong cassette - about a pig and its barnyard friends.When parents played the tape to soothe babies to sleep, "the poor kids were jolted into hysterics by the sounds of animals oinking and mooing and clucking, etc."
The Random House computer showed thousands of returns, yanking ...DREAMLAND off the market.
The end of one verse, RED BIRD, reads:...
One of my earliest collections was a book of poems called ME! published by Seabury Press in 1970. I worked with a young, enthusiastic editor, James Cross Giblin. We adored one another - our thoughts, our thinking, our philosophies.
ME! was to be an early picture book of poems dealing with a child's self-concept. I included works by Gwendolyn Brooks, Charlotte Zolotow, Myra Cohn Livingston and even an offbeat Mother Goose rhyme.
Jim contracted Talavaldis Stubis to do the art. Stubis had done the Broadway poster for FUNNY GIRL, Barbra Streisand's hit show in the '60's. One page in the book is truly Streisand-ish as a child boasts about herself while roller skating. A bit right from FUNNY GIRL.
I penned a poem "Toy Telephone" and dedicated it to "J.G.; another verse of mine from ME! -"This Tooth" has been reprinted over and over for more than four decades. I owe so much to Jim.
Through the years we kept in touch as he became editor at other houses, began his stellar career as a writer of non-fiction. Â He was a dear friend....
2015 -what a year. I had three new books published: LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET: POEMS TO LOVE WITH YOUR BABY (Abrams), JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES (Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong) and AMAZING PLACES (Lee & Low). Two paperback reprints also were published, ALPHATHOUGHTS (Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong) and AMAZING FACES (Lee & Low).
Renee LaTulippe and I completed "Spotlight on NCTE Poets" series. The last interview released was on Nikki Grimes. Forthcoming are me, J. Patrick Lewis, Joyce Sidman, and Marilyn Singer. See "Spotlight..." on top left corner of Home Page. Once again, I cannot thank Renee enough for the incredible amount of research she has done for this series. She has helped preserve the history of children's poetry in the United States.
How proud I am to have been honored as Chancellor of the Florida State Poet's Association, a four-year term - the first time a children's poet has been honored.
On a personal front, Charles and I had a great year. Â We expanded our property in Cape Coral, went on two wondrous cruises, found some extraordinary art pieces, attended a host of concerts and theatre productions, and continue to be blessed with many friends - old and new.
The biggest event of our lives was getting married last January. Officially January 20, is our first anniversary - after having met 45 years ago....
From early August to now has been a wondrous whirlwind.
Two new titles appeared this fall: JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES (Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong) has been hailed as "an all-time favorite."Jane Manning's imaginative, child-centered artwork brings magic to the poetry of Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Nikki Grimes, Joan Bransfield Graham and so many more.
AMAZING PLACES (Lee & Low) has already received two starred reviews from KIRKUS and PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY. Stunning artwork was done by Chris Soentipiet and Christy Hale a brilliant twosome.
Last weekend I attended the Florida State Poets Association in Palm Beach where I was honored as Chancellor, a four-year appointment. I am so fortunate to be part of this association where I met a host of new friends including Joseph Cavanaugh, President, and Peter Meinke, Florida's Poet Laureate.
Although a long way away to publication I am thrilled to have completed my latest anthology A BUNCH OF PUNCTUATION (Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong) being able to work again with my beloved editor, Rebecca M. Davis, who I have known for a quarter-of-a-century.Rebecca also edited JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES....
One wonders where time goes. August! My first post since April! Yet, I think I like the letter 'A'!
Two forthcoming titles are due out in Autumn.
In an advance review of JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES (Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press), illustrated byJane Manning, KIRKUS called the book "...an endearing Accolade' ending with "Amen".
For AMAZING PLACES (Lee & Low), illustrated by Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale, KIRKUS starred the book stating "Amazing indeed".
I am amazed. Amen....
Overwhelmed at the reception of LULLABY & KISSES SWEET (Abrams).
Overwhelmed! I never thought a board book for toddlers would become so popular so fast. Indeed, a thrilling moment in my career.
The past few months have been filled with theatre. Old saws - OKLAHOMA, WEST SIDE STORY - renewed again due to technology and youthful casts.
Concerts -Gershwin, Rodgers, Webber - reminders of what music and lyrics were. Were!
I reach 77 on the l3th. I was 20 yesterday; 25 as I'm writing. Or 30? Next week 77. Incredulous....
January - a month of extraordinary life happenings. On l/6, Florida passed the Marriage Equality Act. On l/l5, Charles John Egita and I married at a lovely private ceremony at our home. A larger reception will be held the end of February. Charles and I met over forty-five years ago. It was time! Time, indeed.
We sailed on the Caribbean Princess for a five-night cruise spent in of the most incredible suites we've ever seen on a ship. Photos appear on my Facebook page.
February is here. I give a talk on 2/7, at the Cape Coral Public Library to "The Cape Coral Bookies" - a local writer's group headed by Kathleen Hayes of Florida Southwestern State College. Local theatre productions abound including a staging of CABARET at The Laboratory Theatre of Florida an exciting, intimate venue.
On the professional front will be three books appearing in March. LULLABY AND KISSES SWEET (Abrams) a board book for toddlers ages 0-5 containing thirty verses all especially commissioned for the project, written by both master poets and introducing new voices.
Two paperback reprint releases are ALPHATHOUGHTS: ALPHABET POEMS (Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong) containing twenty-six verses in a form I invented. School Library Journal hailed the book as "evocative...a celebration of simplicity"; AMAZING FACES (Lee and Low) an anthology celebrating American diversity, is illustrated by incomparable Chris Soentiepiet....
One never knows how a book will fare until it finally appears after years of work.
MANGER (Eerdmans), illustrated by Helen Cann, got off to a roaring start. Published in September, the first edition print run was gone by November. Promotion was widespread: A terrific blog by Sylvia Vardell at www.poetryforchildren.blogspot.com--a long interview with Tim Podell at www.goodconversations.com a main selection at Politics & Prose Booksellers in Washington, D.C. - a bevy of rave reviews including a starred review in KIRKUS, a large autographing turnout at a local Barnes & Noble bookstore in Ft. Myers, Florida - a book trailer on www.youtube and more.
I am so thrilled to have MANGER appear after MARY'S SONG.
In addition to the professional it is always thrilling to have such a rich personal life, dates with friends, a production of THE NUTCRACKER, a Holiday Pops Concert, a church pageant, and our huge, ever-growing Christmas gala which we host annually.
Charles has outdone himself this year bringing the theme WHITE CHRISTMAS glowing throughout the house. Believe me -- hosting over 30 people for cocktails, appetizers, live music on the lanai, dinner, a sing-along, dessert and with luck a visit from Santa Claus takes a lot of planning - but it is so rewarding to meet with so many wondrous friends for an evening of pure delight....
I met Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snickett, only once - at a conference - at the height of his popularity having written his "...Unfortunate Events" series. He was then - overblown!
I've known Jackie Woodson for quite some time. I know of her passion to write, to get published, to keep the pace of genius. I know of her fight, her plight for human rights - her vision of a better future for all.
I was not at the National Book Award Ceremony to hear firsthand Mr. Handler's 'joke' - "Jackie's allergic to watermelon...".
But the remark bothered me. It bothers me. Racism has always been and it is still here - widespread - and it hurts - it hurts a white boy dreaming, too.
My first book, DON'T YOU TURN BACK (Knopf) a collection of poetry by Langston Hughes, published shortly after his death appeared in l969 with brilliant woodcuts by Ann Grifalconi who later received a Caldecott Honor Book Award....
Time is once upon, upon again. Where does it go? Better yet, why doesn't some of it stay? NO! Can't be NO-vember. Yet it is.
I oft reread a quote from the brilliant Tennessee Williams:
"Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by so quick you hardly catch it going."
So -- it is November.
My latest book, MANGER (Eerdmans) has received glorious reviews including a Children's Book Council "Hot of the Press' title and a starred review in KIRKUS....
Renee LaTulippe and I continue our NCTE Poet Series. Forthcoming is an interview about the work of the incredible Lilian Moore whose wordplay was as unique as she was. We also did introductory work on Arnold Adoff and Valerie Worth all to be posted in the future. For past interviews click top left icon on my Home Page, "NCTE Interviews".
It is less than a month away until the publicaiton of MANGER (Eerdmans) illustrated by an exciting talent from England, Helen Cann (www.helencann.co.uk). MANGER, due September l, features fourteen poems based on the legend that God granted 'all creatures big and small the power of thought or speech to welcome and comfort Baby Jesus lying in a manger. The book is cited as "a Nativity story unlike any other." It was a delight to dedicate the book to a dear friend, Mary Fischer.
I am working on two exciting projects to appear in 2015; more about these at a much later date!
A great deal of time and energy was dedicated this year to revising and revising an adult novel which will go to my agent by the end of this month. It was a long road to travel filled with exhilaration, frustration and all those things a writer must deal with to get to THE END.
A woman asked me if I was retired....
This post is not about Walter's incredible literary accomplishments; it is about my relationship with one of the greatest human beings one could encounter in life.
We met in the late l960's when I worked at Bank Street College at a research center on l25th Street-smack in the middle of Harlem.
A group of us, including poet, Lilian Moore, became quite active with the Council on Interracial Books encouraging the organization to initiate a Children's Book Award for 'minorities.' Walter's first book, WHERE DOES THE DAY GO? (Parents Magazine Press) was the first winner for text. We became friends way back then.
Walter became the first poet to twice win the Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State Poetry Award for breakthrough volumes of verse, HERE IN HARLEM (2004), JAZZ (2007) as well as an Honor Book for BLUES JOURNEY (2003; all Holiday House.)
Although he penned scores of fiction, poetry was an important part of his being. After BLUES... he wrote me: "I am working on poetry like mad...do you know of any verse novels, those you admire? I'm trying one and find myself on VERY shaking ground."...
April - May - flew by. A week-long cruise via ALLURE OF THE SEAS was spectacular, filled with surprise, including meeting new friends who live in nearby Sarasota. Pictures of the experience are posted on my facebook page.
I received the first bound copy of MANGER (Eerdmans) to be officially published September l. I am in total awe of Helen Cann's dynamic artwork.The book is also special to me in that it is dedicated to a woman whom I adore - Mary Fischer - who has given so much of her life to better educating children.MANGER is a book of poems relating what varied animals might think or say at the birth of Jesus. It has already been noted as "...a Nativity story unlike no other". Among the poets are Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Joan Bransfield Graham, Jane Yolen, and Alma Flor Ada.
News from Abrams that BABY! (tentative title), a unique board book will appear April, 2015, with art by Alyssa Nassner. The book will feature 30 especially commissioned works by today's top poets dealing with subjects children are engaged in from years 0-5!
What gets shoved aside?Revision on my adult novel which stares at me daily.I plan to delve back into it by the end of this month. I miss the characters. I wonder if they miss me.A few life turnarounds has caused me to rethink parts of the plot. Life becomes reality, reality becomes fiction. Aren't they they same?
MARCH! And I have not posted since last November!
Rather than catching up I simply want to add a few things.
Renee LaTulippe and I continue doing tapes on the NCTE Poetry Award Winners. It is wonderful recalling lives of such greats.I have had the opportunity to communicate with both Myra Cohn Livingston's children, Jennie and Joshua, and Eve Merriam's sons, Guy and Dee Michel. You can view the tapes at www.nowaterriver.coat VIDEO LIBRARY - NCTE POETS SPOTLIGHT.
The 2014 Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State University Poetry Awards were announced last week. Information can be found at www.pabook.libraries.psu.edu
I am quite involved with a host of projects. A priority is to finish a third revision of a second adult novel - something that is overwhelming, time consuming, challenging - yet so exciting.The problem with writing is time -- finding it, keeping to a schedule and being disciplined; not an easy task....
Although I knew Charlotte for many years, the first book I did with her was the anthology MORNING, NOON, AND NIGHTTIME, TOO, published with Harper in l980.
I adored her -- not only as being a brilliant editor but a good friend.
At lunch one afternoon, and we had many, many lunches together, I mentioned how sad that her books of poetry were out of print, especially RIVER WINDING (T. Y. Crowell, l970) which first appeared in l970 under the Abelard-Schuman imprint. RIVER... had etherial two-color paintings by Kazue Mizumura which perfectly reflected Charlotte's beautiful poetry.ALL THAT SUNLIGHT (Harper, l967) was also gone.
"These poems plus a bunch of others I keep in a box," she told me. "They're so unorganized. I could never do anything with them."
This was back in the l980's. I was doing a lot of work with Harcourt with the wondrous late-editor Anna Bier. I had an idea to bring back some classic poetry by putting them in new editions. I had just convinced Myra Cohn Livingston to put together a collection of her out-of-print works which Anna published titled A SONG I SANG TO YOU (Harcourt, l980), illustratred by Margo Tomes...
BOOKS AVAILABLE ON A FIRST-COME BASIS - THROUGH NOVEMBER 22 - WILL BE SENT VIA MEDIA MAIL
ALL MONIES TO BE DONATED TO CHARITIES.
HARDCOVERS - $12.00 - INCLUDES MAILING COSTS
ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE...
SEPTEMBER got off to a busy start with news that NASTY BUGS received a nomination for the Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award for 2014-2015. So -- girls and boys will be itchin' and scratchin' for years to come!
Beginning September 6, the wondrous Renee LaTulippe at www.nowaterriver.com will release the first video interview with me on the NCTE Excellence in Poetry for Children Award recipients. I discuss the life and works of incredible wordmaster, David McCord, who told me:
"Poetry is so much more than the shiver down the spine..." -- and more.
Renee and I are at work to include all winners to date.
On September 28, Penn State University at State College will host the 20th Anniversary of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award. This year's winner, Kate Coombs will be there to receive the award for WATER SINGS BLUE....
HOORAY! August l3th is the official publication of ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE (Creative Editions), illustrated by Guy Billout. Based on Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" monologue from AS YOU LIKE IT, this anthology brings together poetry from birth to old age from 'entrances' to 'exits'.
The book begins with Rebecca Kai Dotlich's brilliant piece of work "Amazing Face II" heralding the birth of a child. Lines from the poem include:
"You will cry for someone,/jingle keys, trace a warm cheek./You will skip, stumble, soar/You will climb a ladder to the stars...".
A sad observation is that ...STAGE is only the second of two anthologies to be published in the United States in 2013. There should be more ...and more. Anthology offers a blending of so many voices to mesh as one.
Plans are underway to begin registration for the Fifth Annual Lee Bennett Hopkins/Edison State Writers Institute at Edison State in Ft. Myers, Florida. Speakers this year, on October 26, include Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Award winner for SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL, and Stephen Alcorn, illustrator of many award-winning books, including my MARY'S SONG (Eerdmans) - a 2013 First Place Catholic Book Award. For those in Florida see EDISON STATE at my site....